A Story of Innovation and Great Peruvian Organic Coffee - Cajamarca, Peru

By Timothy S. Collins

About half of Peru's agricultural exports originate from the 805,000 acres of land devoted to coffee production. An estimated 85% of this coffee producing land is located mostly in the north of the country, a fact which gives an appreciation for how hard it is for coffee farmers in other Peruvian regions to reach large scales of production. In addition, as is typical in Peru, most of the coffee growing land belongs to small scale farmers.

The average farm is between two to five acre plots and is owned by farmers with limited access to education, healthcare, proper housing and nutrition. These farmers employ inefficient and uneconomical techniques to grow coffee such as the use of large amounts of energy and water that in the end harm the ecosystem and produce poor quality coffee.

The lack of training in farming practices and the absence of a centralized coffee organization is a main obstacle in developing the coffee industry. Peruvian coffee farmers have organized themselves as cooperatives in order to better compete in the trade. Of the estimated 25,000 Peruvian families dedicated to coffee growing, only about 20% are organized in cooperatives, probably due to the isolation of most farms, very difficult geography, lack of a unified leadership and insufficient knowledge about how to access training and resources to improve coffee production.

Cajamarca, Peru, is located at an altitude of 8,900 feet in the northern highlands in Peru's Northern coffee growing region. Cajamarca has very fertile soil and is blessed with an Equatorial weather which is sunny, dry and mild. Cajamarca is a beautiful and historical city known for its churches, hot springs or Inca baths, and active mining sites including the world's second largest gold mine.

Cajamarca was a sacred place to the Inca Empire where they built an aqueduct that may be the continent's oldest man-made structure. Cajamarca is also where the Inca Empire came to an end with the Battle of Cajamarca when the Inca Emperor Atahualpa was captured by Francisco Pizarro and murdered. In 1986, the Organization of American States declared Cajamarca a Historic and Cultural Heritage of the Americas-- a very well deserved distinction.

In Cajamarca, there are examples of local coffee farmers who have risen to the challenge and become leaders of their communities. A remarkable example is the story of Juan Rivera, a small coffee farmer who was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009 (www.ashoka.org/fellows). The Ashoka Fellowship is an organization that searches for and selects individuals who are leading social entrepreneurs recognized for innovative solutions to social problems and their commitment to improving people's lives. Ashoka Fellows work in more than 60 countries around the globe.

Juan Rivera, a coffee farmer from Cajamarca, faced an economic situation that changed his life when his children were ready to go to university. This coffee farmer struggled to finance their education which he knew was necessary to offer them a good future. To improve his coffee production, Juan Rivera studied books and evaluated alternative solutions for better coffee production.

On his own, through adaptation, trial and error, Juan Rivera created an efficient and sustainable model to grow organic coffee. He successfully obtained a high quality coffee that he was able to sell to the Fair Trade market at a higher margin. A generous and caring man, Juan Rivera decided to share his experience and learnings with other farmers in his own community. It is, without any doubt, individuals such as these who understand the coffee trade and their local conditions who can make a huge difference in teaching others how to improve their lives and their coffee quality

Ready to enjoy a cup of delicious Peruvian Shade Grown Organic coffee?

Timothy S. Collins
Article by Timothy S. Collins
Timothy ("Tim") S. Collins, the author, is called by those who know him "The Gourmet Coffee Guy." He is an expert in article writing who has done extensive research online and offline in his area of expertise, coffee marketing, as well as in other areas of personal and professional interest. Come visit the author's website: www.ourgourmetcoffee.com.

© Copyright - Timothy S. Collins. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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