Remote data collection with smallholder farmers in Mexico

NKG Bloom is a global programme of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). It was developed to improve smallholder coffee farmer’s livelihoods by providing access to finance, technology, inputs, and capacity training - all needed to optimise and sustain coffee production in the coming years.

In order to measure the impact of this programme and steer implementation where necessary, Akvo was brought on board to organise and facilitate data collection.

Above: Crops of the smallholder farmers involved in the NKG Bloom programme. 






Remote data collection



Akvo Flow


The challenge

We aimed to gather data from 93 smallholder farmers using household surveys. We also aimed to facilitate three focus groups with farmers and cooperative leaders, as well as 12 key informant interviews with NKG Bloom members and other actors from the Mexican coffee sector. However, just days before the commencement of data collection, a sudden outbreak of Covid-19 amongst local team members forced us to modify our data collection scheme, pivoting to remote data collection.

Remote Data Collection
Above: Akvo team member Andres Winograd on a field visit in Mexico. 

The solution

Rather than visiting the farmers in person, we set up a “call centre” in a hotel in the city of Veracruz to conduct phone-based surveys for all 93 farmers, engage with key informants through Zoom interviews, and replace focus group discussions (which we avoided as a high risk activity) with “qualitative questionnaires” - structured, open-ended interviews in which farmers were able to provide deeper insight about their situation and experience with the programme. Using remote data collection methods, we could gather insights without having to go into the field.

The impact

The shift from field to remote data collection was abrupt, but our experience in Mexico shows that if enough care is taken in planning, research objectives can still be met. For farmer surveys, we gathered data from 64% of the farmers, with a response rate of 71% in the state of Veracruz, 69% in Puebla, and 50% in Chiapas. This is comparatively high to the response rate usually obtained from email, web, and telephone surveys. For the qualitative dimension of the study, we were able to complete all 12 key informant interviews and 10 qualitative questionnaires. With this remote data collection solution, NKG Bloom and partners can continue to improve the programme based on the data gathered without having to risk exposing anyone to COVID-19.