About · Project – Improving traceability within ABICS’ coffee supply chain using innovative technologies

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Project – Improving traceability within ABICS’ coffee supply chain using innovative technologies

Project title: Improving traceability within ABICS coffee supply chain using innovative technologies

Project objective: This pilot project was launched with the objective of providing a solution to 4C Managing Entities to improve their internal management systems. The promoted tool facilitates certification and data collection for audits and supports traceable and deforestation free supply chains.

Project Management: 4C Services GmbH

Project financed by: ABICS, GRAS and 4C Services GmbH


Implementing partners: Caféron


Project period: 05/2021 – XX/202X

Key results

updated 3 March 2022

  • The Coffee cooperative Caféron has received the GRAS tool to manage all their farmers’ data, assess risks on deforestation and protected areas and produce reports for communication along the supply chain
  • All CAR data of all farmers has been included in the GRAS tool
  • As a next step, the GRAS Tracking App will be applied to ensure traceability for each batch of green coffee between farmers and warehouses.

Project background and relevance

Forest provide several ecosystem services that are essential for nature and people. They are a biodiversity refuge, a key source of oxygen and the origin for the watersheds used to supply populations. Deforestation has massive negative impacts on these benefits, meaning risks for human health and high economic losses. Moreover, forest ecosystems provide an important contribution to climate mitigation by sequestering and storing carbon. Every year forests absorb 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide -around one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels- from the atmosphere. Therefore, deforestation is a major driver of climate change.

The Rondonia region in Brazil is in the heart of the Amazon, which is the largest area covered by tropical rainforest, the most biodiverse biome on earth. 10% of the world’s species and around 500 indigenous communities call the Amazon region home. This fact, combined with the significant role the Amazon Rainforest plays for global climate regulation and oxygen production, explains this area’s extreme high ecological and cultural value. On the other hand, the increasing global demands for natural resources have triggered a fast-paced rate of deforestation worldwide. Despite its enormous importance, the Amazon region has not been an exception to this reality. In 2020 the Brazilian Amazon deforestation reached the highest rate of the decade, with more than 11,000 km2 of forest loss in that year. This rate was 182% higher than the goal established in 2009 in the National Policy on Climate Change that aimed to reduce the deforestation rate by 80% by 2020. Multiple governmental initiatives achieved meaningful reductions until 2012, compared to the historical peak of 2004 when more than 27,000 km2 were clear cut. However, since 2013 there has been an upward trend in deforestation that respond to a set of environmental setbacks initiated with controversial changes in the local legislation.

The international community has reacted to this situation, expressing its concern about the increasing rates of deforestation in the Amazon region and worldwide. The coffee sector is also trying to minimize its impacts in this regard. Several companies have announced commitments and public investments to monitor and encourage the implementation of deforestation-free value chains. In the same direction, the European Parliament has already announced that legislation will soon be published to curb deforestation and forest degradation caused by the EU and focused on agricultural products, including coffee. EU citizens showed overwhelming support for this EU initiative which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss while having positive impacts on local communities. This initiative establishes that products must not come from deforested or degraded land after December 31, 2020, and must comply with the laws of the country of production. To comply with the new regulations, European-based coffee roasters and traders will have to assess deforestation risks in their supply chains, ensuring access to information linking coffee to the land of its production and implement concrete mitigation measures that should be reported.

Brazil is the first coffee producer at the global level, and Europe concentrates many of the most relevant markets of this product. Complying with the regulations set out by the Brazilian government and the new international requirements is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for the smallholder farmers of the amazon Rondonia region. Yet, the industry is also increasingly interested in purchasing coffee from farms that can follow these guidelines.

With increasing awareness of the impact of deforestation, global climate change and consumer demand for sustainably produced coffee, companies face a new challenge of implementing innovations to enable fully traceable deforestation-free supply chains.

Project description and objectives

Identifying the origin of coffee production by collecting data on farms and producers together with the geographical location of coffee fields areas are the first steps to understand if coffee production is associated with potential deforestation risks and their negative impacts on the environment. In this context a joint project has been proposed to implement deforestation-free coffee supply chains by using digital tools to collect data from farmers. The data to collect regards to agronomic information, coffee farm perimeters, traceability records, and assessment of land use change and other environmental risks linked to each coffee lot.  Once this data collection is enabled, technological innovations designed to automate traceability controls combined with satellite image analysis systems provide robust and reliable solutions to monitor deforestation-free supply chains.

Along with the overall objective of this project of implementing deforestation-free coffee supply chains, other goals of this project are:

  • To facilitate data collection from engaged farmers committed to deliver fully traceable and deforestation-free coffee
  • To expand the use of digital tools to enable data collection and assessment of deforestation risks associated with coffee production
  • To enable the digitization and automation of collection of traceability records and monitoring of physical flows of coffee sourced from smallholders
  • To bring this dataset together in an easy-to-use and secure online platform and enabling reliable tracking of the physical flow of coffee goes beyond classical traceability, as it also identifies coffee lots from production fields not involved in deforestation.
  • To increase supply of deforestation-free produced coffee and its uptake by coffee traders, roasters and retailers as well as consumers.

Project measures

The basis for this project was an analysis conducted by GRAS on the main risk indicators in relation to deforestation in the project region.

GRAS has developed in cooperation with 4C several practical tools which make it easier for producers to comply with the requirements and report to coffee buyers and others. Functionalities that are now possible through the tools developed by GRAS:

  • Inclusion of CAR data of each farmer and assessment against deforestation and protected areas
  • Monitoring of farmers data over time
  • Production of customizable reports on farmer data

The tools developed by GRAS have been presented to farmers in hands-on training sessions organized by 4C. In these trainings farmers and cooperative managers learned how to use and manage these tools.

In a next step, the GRAS Tracking App will be introduced to the cooperative and warehouses and will be applied to trace single deliveries of coffee beans. Information on single coffee deliveries will be matched in the database with the farmer data and assessment results. This will provide a comprehensive overview of farmers’ activities as well as the possibility to clearly identify where the produced coffee beans are coming from and verify their deforestation-free origin.

Potential project partners

  • Project management: 4C Services GmbH
  • Project partner: Global Risk Assessment Services, Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café Solúvel (ABICS), Cafeicultores Associados da Região Matas de Rondônia (CAFERON) and Cooperativa Agrária dos Cafeicultores de São Gabriel (Cooabriel)
  • 4C Units: Cafeicultores Associados da Região Matas de Rondônia (CAFERON) and Cooperativa Agrária dos Cafeicultores de São Gabriel (Cooabriel) in Brazil
  • Industry partner: Members of Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café Solúvel (ABICS)
  • Local implementation partner: Instituto Federal de Rondonia (IFRO), Empresa de Assistência Técnica e Extensão Rural de Rondônia (EMATER-RO), Cooabriel and other local partners to be defined

ABICS (Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Café Solúvel) is interested in enhancing traceability and transparency in their coffee supply chains. In particular, ABICS would like to assess the presence of deforestation at coffee plantation level and provide this information along the supply chain up until the mills. GRAS and ABICS have conducted a pilot project using the Faramo System developed by GRAS and has agreed upon a list of modifications of the system in order to satisfy specific needs addressed by ABICS.

A pilot project with 30 producers and other local implementing partners has already been conducted in 2021. Due to the positive results achieved during the execution of the pilot project, the parties involved decided to scale up the project to enable the inclusion of a larger number of farmers and other coffee producing regions. This project provides an opportunity to take a proactive approach and become a forerunner on the market, investing in and supplying traceable and deforestation-free coffee.

Potential phases and activities

1 Introduction of data collection, risk assessment and traceability digital tools
  • Presentations will be conducted in coordination with the implementing partners to familiarise everyone involved with the digital tools that will be used in the project
  • Training will be conducted with producers, technicians from implementing partner organisations and warehouse staff on how to use the mobile mapping app for farm data collection, the traceability mobile app and the on-line platform
  • Identification of any adjustments, customisation of reports and translation of the user interface of the digital tools mentioned in the previous item
  • Implementation of the adjustments and improvements as identified in the previous activity
  • Further training after the incorporation of the improvements in the digital tools
2 Utilisation of digital tools
  • Mobilisation and engagement of farmers to collect farmer registration data through the mobile mapping app
  • Collection of spatial data, including loading of farm perimeters (polygons) onto the online digital platform
  • During the harvest season, use the mobile traceability app to monitor the physical flow of deliveries of coffee batches from producers to warehouses participating in the project
3 Adoption of fully traceable tools and procedures to enhance the deforestation-free criteria of the 4C sustainability standard and promoting uptake by the market


  • Enhancing traceability requirements and procedures applicable to the reality of small coffee producers in the 4C certification system
  • Awareness-raising campaigns, distinguishing coffee produced and monitored under the concept of deforestation-free supply chains and increasing its market uptake



Pursued project results

In the course of the project 30 smallholder farmers belonging to Caferon will be supported to become 4C certified. This certification will help them to sell their produce to the market at better prices.

The project will also provide ABICS with an efficient tool for traceability and reporting. This can then be used by further 4C Final Buyers and Managing Entities to manage their supply chain.

The project is impact-driven, and so is 4C. 4C intends to conduct further projects in cooperation with brand owners such as ABICS also in other regions, and with different objectives to improve the livelihood of coffee farmers, and to safeguard biodiversity and carbon stocks. If you are interested in partnering with 4C to implement a project, contact us. (LINK)

Results of the project and the impact on the ground will be reported, and learnings from the project will be used to further improve the robustness of the 4C System.

Other benefits expected for the industry partners are:

  • Access to transparent data based on fully traceable, deforestation-free supply chains
  • Reduce GHG-emissions directly contributing to SDG 13 of climate action
  • Development of a unique selling proposition and better response to consumer demands for sustainable coffee production through the promotion of certified deforestation-free coffee
  • Opportunity for improved market positioning and to develop communication campaigns showcasing corporate responsibility and create brand awareness