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282. CRS, FT4All and pilots

2012-06-11 Comments Off on 282. CRS, FT4All and pilots

This blog has been dominated in recent days by discussion of our involvement with one Fair Trade for All pilot project in Colombia.  But the FT4All pilot is just one of countless new ideas CRS field-tests each year in its work around the world.

As an international development agency, CRS wrestles with intractable issues.  Poverty and hunger.  Disease and natural disaster.  Conflict and human trafficking.  We have been doing so for nearly 70 years.  But the issues haven’t gone away.  In many ways, they have gotten more dynamic and complex over time.

Against this backdrop, we are constantly testing new programming ideas in the field to increase our impact.  This is no less true with coffee than in any of the other areas of our work.

The smallholder coffee farmers we support are coping with many challenges at origin, and working to succeed in markets that are highly competitive.  In order to serve them effectively, we need to be dynamic in our approach.  That’s why during nearly 10 years of coffee work we have field-tested new ideas in a wide range of areas. Climate changeCoffee qualityFood securityWater resource management.  Value chain finance.  Information and communication technologies.  And now, with FT4All, new approaches to smallholder organization for the market.

In all of our pilots, we seek to test on a small scale an idea we believe can contribute to improved human welfare or reduce human suffering.  We measure and analyze its performance carefully.  If the results are encouraging, we may continue to refine the idea over time in successive programming cycles, scaling it up gradually only as it demonstrates its effectiveness.

If the results are discouraging, we may go back and tinker with the design or implementation of the idea to try to improve performance.  Or we may discard an idea altogether.

This is the spirit we are bringing to our engagement with FT4All.  And to so many other issues we confront in our work around the world.