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How Open Source Software Makes Money for Coffee Grower Cooperatives

By Wayan Vota on July 7, 2010


In Kenya, coffee farmers are concerned about getting a fair price for their beans, and worry about “ghost kilograms” – the undercounting of raw and processed bean weights – that can happen with handwritten accounts.

So the Kenya Coffee Producers Association (KCPA) looked around for a coffee bean accounting system they could utilize to accurately track coffee sales to factories, and help the factories themselves manage coffee production. Yet they found proprietary software applications just too expensive.

The Open Source Solution

According to Rop Kiplagat, once KCPA discovered CoopWorks, an open-source software that had originally been developed for dairy cooperatives, they saw an impressive shift in coffee grower results:

CoopWorks tracks all the steps of coffee collection, processing and sales. The system has a member management feature for collecting the data of individual members. It has an accounting module with cash book registers, ledgers and a payroll system. Other features include asset registration, loan management, inventory for the cooperative store and report publication.

With the old manual data entry system, the cooperatives did not know how much coffee the milling factory would produce from their beans, and therefore, did not know what the financial return would be. The new system, however, can convert the coffee bean weight into an estimated value once it goes into the mills. The software also monitors the coffee deliveries based on each cooperative’s tracking numbers. Once the coffee is sold, the payment is received into the system and credited to the appropriate cooperative’s account.

Expanding and Customizing Software

CoopWorks already produces a member statement of inputs bought on credit and the proceeds of deliveries sold to millers – helping farmers better understand their costs and profits. And since its Open Source, KCPA is also expanding the software to fit their particular membership needs. KCPA is delivering coffee and input prices to members on their cell phones via SMS and will soon link to mobile banking as well.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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