Posts Tagged ‘Cecovasa’

End of Year Letter from Peru

Today we received the following letter (translated from Spanish) from Miguel Paz, Export Manager of CECOVASA, one of our small farmer coffee co-operative partners in Juliaca, Peru:



 Hola compañeros:


The year has ended but not the work. But since it’s New Years, we don’t talk of difficult things; rather we wish for success, happiness and good health… 

I’m sending you some photos of my recent trip to the production zone where I was attending the end of year General Assemblies.

















Most of the photos are from the visit we paid to Wilson Sucaticona, National Quality Champion.  His coffee is 1600 meters high and even at this time, there’s still coffee to harvest. We did a ceremony, called Kintucha, to give thanks to the earth.


The other photos are of the Assembly of Delegates where they have elected the new Governing Board.  As always, the Assemblies end with beer and a dance.  In the photos, the floor appears wet; this is due to the custom that each person spills a little less than half of the first glass on the floor… for “good luck”.  


Finally, are photos of the new processing plant in Juliaca, which we plan to inaugurate on January 21, 2010 during the Day of the “Change in Command”.  This is when the new Governing Board assumes leadership.  










Take care and stay in touch.  

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Miguel PazThe following letter (translated from its original Spanish) was sent to us earlier this week from Miguel Paz, Export Manager for CECOVASA, long-time friend and business partner of Equal Exchange. Click here to read more about a past visit to CECOVASA.


Dear Friends,

I’m sending you a few comments from Peru.

Politically, the situation is very interesting. Up until a week ago, the government was taking an offensive position, trying to privatize and sell everything and award the best conditions possible to large national capital interests (planting large areas for agro export and agro industry) because the small farmers and the indigenous that live in these areas “don’t know how to develop them”. As President Alan Garcia said, these “second-class citizens” are like the “farmer’s dog who doesn’t eat or let anyone else eat.”


Using their control over the media and money that they must have received from transnational companies, they have been running a disinformation campaign, telling people that this is good for Peru, that mining investment will result in development, that this is a requirement in order to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. And they have been making progress, to the point that the Awajun-Wampis indigenous population rose up in northeast Bagua.

The government’s initial strategy was to ignore the demands, try to wait them out, then let the tenant farmers in the jungle (including coffee growers) turn against the indigenous population because they wouldn’t allow them to enter with food supplies or leave with production. After two months, the police unblocked the highways. It has been confirmed that 24 police officers and 10 indigenous have been killed and almost 150 people have been disappeared. There have been so many police officers killed because they were sent to be killed and the indigenous have military training and a long tradition of struggle. The tenant farmers helped them when the forced evacuation occurred. The government took a risk and criminalized the protest and then united the country against the “savages that kill the poor police officers.” Subsequently, in other areas where protests occurred, more radical methods were used and the protests moved to other parts of the country, including Lima (for the first time in many years, students went to the streets to march against the government). Eventually the government had to retract some of the controversial laws, but others have been left intact and this means that there is room for the problems to continue.


The situation has now calmed down, but it could become very complicated if there is not an adequate response. The farmer is very scared of the dogs.


In Peru, incredible things happen. A week ago, the government joined with the right and with Fujimori supporters to approve the “Law of the jungle”. Now it is trying to get these same people to repeal the law. The minister that said that these laws were necessary in order to be a part of the free trade agreement, now says that there is no risk in losing the agreement.

In the month of March, the Ministry of Education took a poll in which .1% approved and now they say that in another poll, 75% was approved. Additionally the daughter of ex-President Fujimori is leading the electoral polls.

Another important topic is that the government, by way of SUNAT (the national revenue service), intervened with the Panamericana television station because it wanted to collect on a debt of more than 100 million Peruvian sols. After 48 hours it had been determined that the situation would be handled by another agency due to insolvency. Then the judicial system made a resolution turning the station over to a former administrator who had received US$10 million from the Fujimori government.


The coffee situation is, in part, complicated by prices that continue to drop and by the fact that some clients are waiting to buy, hoping that they will drop even further. There are few remaining buyers from Colombia in Northeastern Peru (Jaen, Bagua, Amazonas). The differentials for conventional coffee (22 defects) from Peru are between +2 and +15. A separate issue is a drop in production. Cecovasa could see a reduction of as much as 50%. Very little coffee is being brought to the collection centers.


A final note: On June 5th, Cecovasa won a national BioTrade competition in the category for businesses. This happened on the same day that police officers and indigenous people were killed in Bagua. We went to the Palace to receive the award and we circulated a press release a week later.


We will continue to be in touch.


Miguel Paz

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Our coffee co-op partner, CECOVASA has just received an award for the impact their work has had on promoting and protecting bio-diversity in the region.  The award was presented to them by Alan Garcia Perez, President of Peru.  We have just received the following press release about this impressive accomplishment which we have translated below from its original Spanish. For more information about CECOVASA, click here.



On World Environment Day


On June 5 at the National Palace, Cecovasa was awarded first place in the category for businesses dedicated to biotrade. This competition was organized by the Ministry of Environment and participants included 152 different businesses and communities located in 19 regions around the country. Cecovasa won the prize in the category for businesses, the Junín Pablo de Ucayali community and the San Juan Bautista (Loreto) municipality won prizes in the categories for communities and local governments, respectively. The prize was awarded by the Peruvian President in the presence of the Minister of Environment, Ambassadors, Congress people, and hundreds of intellectuals and individuals that are well known for their defense of the environment and promotion of sustainable businesses.


The Minister of Environment, Antonio Brack, said that this is the first time that the competition is being held. He said that Peru has a rich biodiversity that allows for the country to generate wealth and move its people out of poverty.


The President (though we don’t believe it) said the following: “the environment is a fundamental issue for the future and, therefore, a fundamental issue for the government.”  The Chief of State, Alan Garcia Perez, highlighted the work that is being done by those who promote biodiversity using biotrade and added, “this is included among the government’s objective—the defense of Peru’s biodiversity.” He then said that our country is an “extraordinary bank that allows us for an almost infinite amount of goods, some domesticated throughout history, others built by the original population of Peru, and others in the process of investigation and recognition.”


In speaking with the press, Cecovasa president Agustin Mollinedo Trujillo expressed satisfaction for this recognition. “Cecovasa is made up of small producers. We are farmers that work the land; but we are winners. We have an average of 2 hectares ( less than 5 acres) of coffee and we have created the most successful biotrade business in Peru.  Small-scale agriculture is not only possible, it is sustainable when there exists an economy of scales and an effort to reach markets that pay more money and demand higher quality.”  Mr. Mollinedo asserted that, during 2008-2009, exports reached US$14,876,118. Of this amount, US$8,448,958 was generated from sales of organic coffee gathered by the 1,934 members that participate in the Organic and Sustainable Coffee Program.




Upon being asked about the needs of the producers, the Cecovasa President expressed that what is most needed is communication channels that are in good condition. “We spend as many as 18 hours traveling 350 kilometers to transfer coffee from Putina Punco to Juliaca. If the Sina-Yanahuaya highway were built, this trip could be made in 12 hours. Mollinedo congratulated the producers and leaders of the grassroots co-operative, the leaders of the Organic Program, and the Technical Department—especially Leonardo Mamani, head of Projects. The Cecovasa president said, “our members have children who have become professionals and this is providing us with results that are favorable for everyone.”


Mr. Leonardo Mamani said that the prize awarded to Cecovasa is in the amount of US$ 15,000, but this has not been given in cash, rather it will be used for trainings and for the purchase of equipment in accordance to the plan that we presented.” Mamani said that in order to achieve this award, we have undergone a rigorous evaluation. “The inspectors traveled to the production zone and saw the work in the fields, the work of the technicians, the work of the cooperatives. The verification process then moved to Lima, where they saw the dry processing that, though it does not belong to us, is in accordance with environmental standards and good treatment of workers. Leonardo concluded, “We are champions in biotrade, we are Cecovasa: Quechua and Aymara coffee from Peru.”

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Members of the Governing Board

Members of the Governing Board











CECOVASA, one of Equal Exchange’s small farmer coffee co-operative partners, just celebrated an important milestone:  the completion of a processing plant owned and controlled by the members themselves.








 The plant measures 25 by 50 meters and will begin operation this June, in time for the next harvest.











To read more about CECOVASA, click here.

To read a trip report from a visit to CECOVASA, click here.

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Ever wondered what happens at a General Assembly of coffee producers? Well, I’m not saying that the following report is typical… but Miguel Paz, Export Manager of CECOVASA, one of Equal Exchange’s coffee co-operative partners located in the south of Peru, gives his version of this year’s meetings. His account was published October 14th, on the Progreso Network’s blog. I’ve translated it here from the orignal Spanish. For those of you who know Miguel, I think you’ll appreciate his sense of humor…

Author: Miguel Paz – Export Manager, CECOVASA

Miguel Paz




This week Cecovasa has its General Assemblies. Cecovasa is comprised of eight co-operatives and in each one of them, a team of us must inform the co-operative’s members; I’m the third or fourth to do so. Sometimes the members agree to wait until we have all presented before they ask their questions, sometimes they ask their questions after each report; we like this (more…)

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