SCAA 2012: Do Microlots Matter to Producers?
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
The hypothesis prior to the study was that microlot coffee production may have both positive and negative impacts on communities, with positive impacts including recognition for effort and a return on investment in quality and negative impacts including feelings of envy and competition among fellow community members. The study design aimed to clarify the elements of microlot coffee production that contribute to its success and the areas that need improvement. Data was collected through 13 semi-structured, open-ended, qualitative interviews with microlot-producing and non-microlot-producing members of the cooperative, two interviews with CENFROCAFE staff members who work in these communities, and one facilitated community meeting.
We examined common themes and differences among members, as well as among members and Cenfrocafe representatives. Both microlot-producing members and non-microlot-producing members expressed support for the program and its continuation. Price incentives and pride emerged as the primary motivators for exerting extra effort, and members unanimously feel supportive of the microlot achievement of other community members. At the same time, all members expressed a desire to see the program evolve to address some commonly-cited areas for improvement, including the cupping and scoring system used by CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee and the on-farm infrastructure required for production of high-quality coffee. CENFROCAFE's staff demonstrated even more positive feelings overall, with a desire to create more, similar opportunities for growers in other communities of members as a top priority.
Limitations of the study include: small sample size, lack of diversity among sample, consideration for cultural congruency of the research design, and the survey instrument. Recommendations for enhancements of the partnership between CENFROCAFE and members as well as for CENFROCAFE and Counter Culture Coffee are addressed. Suggestions for future research are explored with an emphasis on a more participatory approach and an additional focus on economic impact of microlots.