Jorge Ricardo From Sumidouro Farm of Piatãfevereiro 27, 2017
Rio Brilhante x Lucca – Exercising the 4th Wave of Coffeeabril 8, 2017
As fourth-generation farmers, we had to align tradition with the demands of today's market. So we realize that just producing good coffee is not enough.
Our farm, São Luiz, is located in Cerrado Mineiro, Brazil. Miguel Veloso, my great-grandfather, was the first of our family to work in agriculture. And my grandfather, Manoel Veloso dos Reis, founded the first agricultural cooperative in our city, besides implanting drip irrigation and working with pulped coffees - a local pioneer. Today, we need to continue innovating. Here are four elements that we believe to be the key to success.
We always produce quality coffee, but only recently did realized that we could achieve commercial differentiation. We saw that we needed to position ourselves in the market more strategically. And the recent trend for specialty coffees allowed us to innovate. We have created a Development Plan, Business Model and Brand Strategy. We defined our vision, established our purpose, and outlined our values. This allowed us to act more positively. We also knew that we had to add more value to our product. We did this by developing our visual identity. Understanding our brand, as well as the market to which we sell, is important to any farm.
Our region is characterized by large-scale production. And that makes technological innovation necessary if we want high quality coffees that are also profitable. Our farm has always looked for better technologies. Our harvest is 100% mechanized, favored by the predominant flat relief in our areas. We prioritize the harvesting of most of our coffees in the cherry stage (mature) through time planning and machinery to achieve greater efficiency in this process. We use drip irrigation, reducing water waste. We do the annual quality mapping, so we know from which field of the farm comes the best coffee. We have a field of experimental varieties. We invite manufacturers to test new agricultural products and machines with us, so we can be at the forefront of agriculture. And we have also implemented an integrated software (ERP) that allows the control of costs and administrative processes. Prioritizing innovation in this way is expensive, but also ensures high productivity and good quality coffee, which in the long run makes us financially sustainable. Examine the operations of your farm: Can technology help you cut costs? Improve the quality? Can you identify your best coffees?
Technology is important, as are our collaborators. Today, we are 28 in the team. Some from my grandfather's time. My father, Fausto do Espírito Santo Velloso, has a close relationship with the older ones. They are his childhood friends and their children are his godchildren. On the weekends, we meet them to talk, not about work, besides attending family events. We consider this a unique value - important to ensure harvest quality. It means that everyone who works on our farm is motivated. They believe in São Luiz Farm and what it represents. But we also know that a good team does not form only with good relationships, it needs continuous investment. We hold workshops and trainings. We pay attention to the functioning of our team. We strive to create values and quality of life - based on the needs of our employees. We have initiative projects such as workshops of engagement and qualification of the managers and collaborators. We have made improvements in the formation of the team, to integrate and extend the knowledge generating personal value. And we have also developed a project focused on the life quality of our employees, along with the implementation of a plan of benefits according to the needs expressed by them. Pay attention to your people. Are they motivated? Do they need some support?
It is not only with our team that relationships are important - they are also kept with our external partners. SEBRAE, a private non-profit entity, is one of our most important partners. It is a training and development promotion agent, created to support small businesses across the country. It has a project called Educampo idealized as a model of intensive managerial and technological assistance in rural properties. The Cerrado Mineiro Coffee Growers Federation is another important partner. The Federation is a non-profit organization, organized and structured by producer associations and cooperatives to promote and represent the origin, the region and the producers through the Denomination of Origin. These partnerships support us. And because we belong to the Cerrado Mineiro Federation, we support other producers nearby. Look for partnerships that offer the same benefits to your farm. Our history in agriculture has passed from father to son for four generations. We inherit an understanding of its value. But we know that entrepreneurship, innovation, and the incessant quest for quality are also important for success.
By Ana Cecília Velloso from the São Luiz Estate Coffees Group
Original text by Ana Cecíla Velloso * for the Spudge blog.
* Ana Cecilia is a producer in Cerrado Mineiro and passionate about coffee. The Velloso family produces coffees for more than 100 years and in 1998 began a new story through the São Luiz Estate Coffees.