Colombia: FCC

Cost-benefit and application analysis of soil testing services provided by FCC to member farmers

Project Leader:

Juana Muñoz Ucros, PhD Candidate, Horticulture

Faculty Advisor:

Miguel Gómez, Associate Professor, Applied Economics and Management

Type of organization:

NGO, farmer cooperative with strong social and business development motivation.

Brief description of organization:

This is a second degree farmer-run organization that joins together seven smaller but similarly motived organizations, mainly organized by geographical region. All of its members are small-holding coffee growers with interest in improving their product’s quality in an environmentally sustainable way.


Definition of Task:

There is a strong push within the organization for organic certification. However, there are few resources for frequent evaluation of crop and soil status. Farmers and technicians within the FCC have expressed the need to monitor the nutritional state of their plants and fields so that they can make informed crop management decisions and invest their limited resources in the most beneficial way. SMART 2017 focused on designing a soil test kit so that the FCC could provide farmers with tools for monitoring soil characteristics. The FCC has independently sought funding for a soil testing laboratory that they aim to set up, with the exclusive purpose of providing their members with low cost testing options that are currently unavailable in Popayán.

We propose two tasks for this project:
1. Evaluating how applicable the soil test kit from 2017 SMART project is, and whether or not the farmers are benefitting from it.

2.A cost-benefit analysis for the proposed set-up of a soil testing laboratory.

Skill Requirements:

Majors: Applied Economics and Management, Plant science, Biology, Natural resources, Environmental engineering and similar majors highly encouraged.

Required skills: Creativity, willingness to work in uncomfortable conditions in the field,willingness to troubleshoot, fluent Spanish. Experience in lab work preferred, as we will probably work on low cost alternatives to soil and tissue lab analyses.

FCC has been host to previous SMART trips. See the 2017 SMART team’s blog here:

Suggested Timeline and Logistics:

7-17 January, 2018

We are planning a two week visit to the main area of influence for the organization (FCC). First half of visit: Interview farmers on their agricultural practices, focusing on soil and nutrient management, application records, etc. Identify their needs in terms of soil monitoring. Second half of visit: Interview FCC staff, tour facilities,collect information on proposed lab, member needs, existing facilities. Visit Universidad del Cauca,determine differences in their lab vs. FCC proposed lab.

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