How do you ensure an award-winning cooperative supports farmers in producing excellent coffee? La Prosperidad de Chirinos in Peru won two Harvee awards at Let’s Talk Coffee Mexico: one for consistently high-quality coffee, another for professionalism in logistics. We spoke to Abdias, General Manager, to find out more.
Members of the cooperative process their coffee with technical assistance from the cooperative. Credit: La Prosperidad de Chirinos
Thanks for chatting with us, Abdias! So tell us about the cooperative.
The cooperative was created in 1968, at which time coffee was sold through government institutions. In 1986, La Prosperidad gained organic certification and began to export coffee through non-government exporters. Then in 2001, we managed to independently export our first container to Twin Trade in England. That same year, we also achieved Fair Trade Certification.
Today, we work with 764 producers. Our goal is to reach as many coffee farmers as possible, providing them technical assistance and including them in social and environmentally friendly projects.
How does a producer join the cooperative?
Each producer must pay 400 soles (approx USD 120) to join. They also need to contribute 5 soles (approx USD 1.50) per quintal of coffee annually, which is used for investments and as working capital. They also need to be approved by the region to which they will belong before they can join the cooperative.
How do they benefit from joining?
La Prosperidad gives higher prices than the competition. Also, every December, La Prosperidad gives additional bonuses based on cup quality. And in March, producers receive 43 soles (approx USD 13) per quintal.
We also provide technical assistance and a fertilization plan which runs throughout the year. As part of this fertilization plan, producers can get organic compost from the cooperative’s composting plant. 85% of the producers have organic certification.
All of them have Fair Trade certification, too, but 25% of the Fair Trade bonus is reserved for improvements in production and quality. What’s more, producers get feedback on cup profiles, which has helped ensure high-quality coffee is produced over the long term.
A meeting of the cooperative. Credit: La Prosperidad de Chirinos
How are you including the younger generation?
We work with a foundation that runs workshops for young people in order to change the way they think about farming. We are also working on a project for replacing leaders with ones from the next generation. And we have our own youth committee to increase participation among younger farmers. Overall, we see high levels of interest in working in coffee among the next generation.
Younger members of the cooperative picking ripe cherries. Credit: La Prosperidad de Chirinos
What about women in coffee?
We provide each woman with two pigs and a “bio garden” in order to promote income diversification. We also organize a contest to reward the women with the best garden.
Do you get support from any other organizations?
The companies Progreso and Colectivo have provided coffee dryers. We also try to get support from our customers for producers who have been affected by climate change. And different foundations have also supported our social projects.
What have the biggest challenges been?
Maintaining quality over the long term. Climate change is something we constantly battle. It’s the reason we have to deal with plagues and diseases such as the coffee berry borer, broca, and coffee leaf rust, roya, and it makes it difficult for us to meet the market requirements. And we have to be very strict with our producers in order to reach our standards for quality. Ultimately, this brings us better prices and better farming practices.
The cooperative works to ensure cup quality despite the risk of pests and disease. Credit: La Prosperidad de Chirinos
How is the Peruvian coffee industry changing?
Due to climate change, producers are trying to farm new, more resistant varietals. We take into account new climate conditions and cup quality in order to teach producers about varietals that are convenient to grow.
Also, national coffee production and the internal consumption is growing. We wish we had more government support so as to guarantee prosperity and success in the coffee sector.
What makes La Prosperidad successful?
We engage producers through education, trust and constant communication. We are committed to teamwork – you can achieve great things if you have a great team! We also know that training is important if we want our team to work at a higher level. We need to provide them with education and encourage them to constantly work towards improvement.
Good communication is also important. If I’m aware of what’s going on, I can act rapidly. I am in constant communication with the managers. We meet often to discuss organizational and logistical problems and look for ways to improve. We do the same with the producers.
I see. Congratulations on your awards, and thanks for talking, Abdias!
Interview conducted and translated by A. Molina Ospina.
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