SMS Code description for GCP Compliance


The SMS Code is a management tool for the diagnosis of sustainability in farms in an integrated way and to provide farmers with comprehensive technical assistance focusing on productivity increase, operative efficiency, production cost reduction and better access to markets. The SMS Code Program is the backbone of ECOM’s Sustainable Management Services strategy. Starting 10 years ago, the Program is today assisting more than 600 000 farmers worldwide and has been used in more than 300 sustainability-related projects. Its effective design goes beyond traditional certification systems, as it incorporates notions of production and quality centered around the continued betterment of farmers’ production through high value-added technical feedback. Moreover, the SMS Code enables roasters to reach new levels of impact at the farmer-level through the portfolio of SMS services and our big data platform SMS Integrity. The latter grant roasters access to near-live field-data to monitor program progress and pilot their own supply chain impact. SMS Code adapts itself to both roasters’ requirements and to the challenges at farm-level to secure coffee quality, empower farmers and to monitor roasters’ supply chain. SMS Code adapts itself to both roasters’ requirements and to the challenges at farm-level to secure coffee quality, empower farmers and to monitor roasters’ supply chain.


SMS Code Status

The SMS Code is built around three-level approach, with each level referring to a different compliance status: 

  • - SMS Provisional: A farm is considered to have Provisional status if it does not comply with all SMS Basic Criteria. A farm cannot have the provisional status for longer than a year. 
  • SMS Verified: focuses on improving a farm or a cluster of farms' essential value drivers, that is productivity and quality. 
  • SMS Diamond Verified: focuses on delivering a holistic improvement system dedicated to further improving farms' essential value drivers as well as strengthening their environmental responsibility. 


SMS Code Main Standards

The SMS Code contains 4 compliance categories which covers the following topics: Management and Transparency (detailing the sourcing of coffee from origins, assessing and ensuring quality and quantities), Productivity and Quality (evaluating production and
agronomic indicators to ensure that farmer can increase productivity and quality on the long run), Environmental Responsibility (environmental indicators (wastewater treatment, river
contamination, flora and fauna protection…) to ensure the coffee we purchase has a positive/neutral impact on the environment) and Social and Work liability (indicators developed to ensure that the coffee we purchase does not undermine farmer’s rights).


Among the categories are found the SMS Basic Criteria, covering items such as:

  • - Internal audits 
  • - No child labor 
  • - Minimum wage 
  • - Freedom of association
  • - Housing condition
  • - No discrimination
  • - Potable water 
  • - Land rights
  • - Working hours 
  • - Waste management
  • - Water protection
  • - Ecosystem protection
  • - No hunting 
  • - Traceability 

Moreover, SMS Drivers are found in these categories which specifically focus on productivity and the continuous improvement of farming practices. SMS Drivers may be related to:

  • - Renovation
  • - Pruning practices 
  • - Farm management plan 
  • - Herbicide reduction
  • - Fertilization plan 
  • - Amendments use 
  • - Soil analysis

SMS Code includes these dimensions by leveraging on the extensive field experience SMS has built through the years. SMS field staff can offer a broad range of ‘state of the art’ agronomic services to farmers – yield estimate, soil analysis, farm mapping and many more -  enabling a full customization of the program built in cooperation with roasters.

These criteria are developed by the Global SMS team and are reviewed annually. All stakeholders are free to suggest or request the addition of specific standards that comply with their business plan or with another certification program, as it has already been done in the past. Stakeholders’ contribution strengthens our certification scheme and is a core value ECOM business model.


SMS Code equivalence

SMS Verified in coffee has been recognised by the Global Coffee Platform as equivalent to the GCP Baseline Coffee Code. This recognition provides a third-party review of our SMS Code, ensuring claims and responsible sourcing are accurate and sound.

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