Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

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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Dear Friends,

The Advisory Council of the National Coffee Board of Peru (JNC) has commissoned us to share with you our deepest sorrow over the violence carried out against the indigenous population of the provinces of Jaén, Utcubamba and Bagua, in the north of the country, causing the loss of lives and hundreds of wounded. These methods of resolving the legitímate demands of those marginalized social sectors only generate greater violence and provoke more injustices, behavior which is at odds with the democratic values that are so frequently invoked. 

It is vital that we be able to count on your solidarity with the indigenous and small farmers of the north of Peru.

Lorenzo Castillo, JNC


We received this email a few days ago accompanied by a formal letter of protest from the Peruvian National Coffee Board expressing solidarity with the communities in the north of Peru where a massacre occurred early in the morning on Friday, June 5th.



The following information has been compiled from several reports written by the Quixote Center:


For the past two months, communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting new laws that usher in an unprecedented wave of extractive industries – expanding logging, oil drilling, mining, and destructive agriculture into the Amazon Rainforest. President Alan Garcia’s government passed these laws under “fast track” authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to make laws to facilitate implementation of the US –Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA).


Over 30,000 indigenous people have taken to blockading roads, rivers, and railways to demand the repeal of these new laws that allow transnational oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without seeking prior consultation or consent. The indigenous are using these nonviolent actions to protest this unprecedented expansion of new transnational petroleum, mining and logging actions which threaten indigenous communities, their resource rights, and the future of the Amazon. (more…)

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“Once again, it has been shown that together, we farmers are capable of achieving anything we put our minds to; and that by maintaining ourselves organized, we can take actions toward our own development.”  Santiago Paz, former General Manager of CEPICAFE


In 1997, Equal Exchange began buying coffee from a small co-operative in northern Peru.  We were the second company to purchase coffee from CEPICAFE, the Peruvian Association of Coffee Growers, and the first to loan them pre-harvest financing.  At the time, we bought 2 containers of their coffee.  Our relationship has grown through the years.  Their former General Manager, Santiago Paz came to Equal Exchange to study English for three months to help him navigate the international business market.  Our West Coast office has brought at least three groups to visit the small scale farmers in Piura and Montero.  Likewise, CEPICAFE ‘s staff and farmer members have been to the United States many times to visit Equal Exchange, and travel to different natural food stores and interfaith congregations with whom we work.  In this way, they have learned about the U.S. consumer market, spoken at conferences and events, and attended quality trainings and exchanges. 

It’s been a close and important relationship for those of us at Equal Exchange and for CEPICAFE.  In the words of one of CEPICAFE’s founders, Arnaldo Neyra Camizan:  “Equal Exchange is our most important importer.  They don’t refer to us as coffee generators, but call us their strategic partners.  Through Equal Exchange’s help, our members are converting from small-scale farmers to small-scale business people.”

Recently I found an article from 2002 that Arnaldo wrote in CEPICAFE’s bulletin, La Flor del Café (the Coffee Flower) in 2002 and it made me think about how far we’ve all come since those days. *  At the time, CEPICAFE was struggling to sell a few containers of coffee at Fair Trade prices.  Today, Equal Exchange buys 10 containers of high quality, organic coffee at above market prices.  The co-op is world-renowned for their coffee and has since built their own processing mill and has added sugar, cacao, marmalade, and crafts to their repertoire of Fair Trade products which they export to the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The last time I visited the co-operative, their office was crowded with visitors from different countries, all wanting to visit the farmers, support projects, and learn about Fair Trade.  CEPICAFE was hosting a two-day conference for small scale farmers and non-governmental organizations from all over Peru; people wanting to learn about their history, study their model and replicate their successes.  At the time, the staff told me that they were hosting so many visitors, that they had decided to launch an eco-tourism project where tourists could stay with farming families, enjoy themselves in the Piuran Sierra, learn about Fair Trade and participate in the coffee, sugar, and cacao harvests. 

We’re proud to share this pamphlet which describes their eco-tourism project now fully off the ground.  For more information about Cepicafe, visit our website.  To inquire about their eco-tourism packages, visit their website.  To read theirbrochure which provides all the information about their program and how to visit, click here.


*  “The Little Window Became a Great Door:  How Fair Trade has helped CEPICAFE”

by Arnaldo Neyra Camizan  (former President of CEPICAFE)

The little window [of Fair Trade] became a tremendous door for the small-scale coffee producers of the Piuran Sierra.  The opportunity to place our coffee in markets that, in addition to offering a fair price, also demand quality coffee, was a determinant in helping CEPICAFE gradually improve our market competitiveness.

Establishing relationships with importers such as GEPA of Germany and Equal Exchange of the USA, among others, importers who are known for the high quality of the coffee they sell, was a calling card for CEPICAFE.  Other importers, then became enthused to establish commercial relationships with CEPICAFE.  These early relationships enabled us to facilitate other business transactions with few difficulties.  The relationships are based on the dual criteria of quality of the coffee, and seriousness of the organization.

CEPICAFE sales growth in markets that pay better for its product, and the pre-harvest financing that it receives from its importers, permitted us to offer services to our members, such as sustainable credits.  In this way, we have helped to alleviate the problems of families who before that to sell their coffee in advance at low prices, in order to buy food or school supplies.  The families also worried about how their children would be able to study.  Before the existence of CEPICAFE, there were very few parents who could send their children to pursue higher education at the Institutes or the University.  Today [in 2003], 20 members have children in different faculties of the National University of Piura.  These future professionals, and those who will follow in the future, will be the ones who will be in charge of consolidating the necessary development in the Piuran Sierra that until very recently, had been entirely overlooked.

CEPICAFE’s relationship to Fair Trade has also served to help families slowly improve their system of production, whether it’s diversifying their agricultural income or investing in infrastructure.  In the beginning of CEPICAFE’s work, there was no infrastructure, such as depulping equipment, drying patios, etc.  Today, the majority of the members have this infrastructure, which serves both to guarantee the quality of their coffee, and to strengthen their relationship to the market.

In addition to these examples, there are many other examples of the impact of Fair Trade on the Piuran Sierra.  However, in our view, one of the greatest achievements is the possibility of self-development that is embedded in this experience.  The arduous work of capacity-building that has been done through countless workshops, classes and exchanges, together with the creation of a sustainable relationship with the market has served to give the different organizations, prestige, negotiating power and the capability of putting forth our own solutions in each zone.  For this reason, the coffee-growing municipalities have signed cooperation agreements with CEPICAFE to share the costs of technical assistance and infrastructure, and are advancing in the construction of a common development vision.  This is the basis of a sustainable development project.

After the whole process of the annihilation of coffee producer organizations in the region, the only association that still exists is CEPICAFE.  CEPICAFE has succeeded in positioning itself to be able to negotiate before public and private institutions that are working in the Sierra.  In this way, this little window that Fair Trade represents has served to help families who were previously entirely overlooked, to feel the first steps of a real development proposal.  These are the successes of Fair Trade.

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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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As if there weren’t enough happening in Peru, the country has been experiencing torrential rains, heavy flooding, landslides and mudslides in the central highlands and the jungle provinces that have caused at least 20 deaths, extensive damage to crops, and the destruction of many roads and bridges.

We recently received this brief note from Santiago Paz, Manager of CEPICAFE, one of our coffee trading partners in northern Peru: (more…)

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February 20th marked the end of a two-day national agrarian strike in Peru. Campesino organizations demanded government measures to alleviate the financial hardships small-scale farmers will face as a result of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) recently signed with the U.S. Under the FTA, tariffs will be lifted on heavily subsidized U.S. grains, like corn and soybeans, creating unfair competition for millions of small-scale farmers in Peru. The strike began on Feb. 19, when farmers in eight departments throughout Peru held marches and blocked traffic. Four protesters were killed, hundreds of people were arrested, and the government declared a state of emergency in all eight departments. The following day, on Feb. 20, the government agreed to undergo negotiations and the strike was suspended. (more…)

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