Helping farmers to tackle climate change in Peru.
San Juan del Oro is a coffee cooperative in southern Peru with which we have developed a strong relationship over a number of years. We are committed to supporting the cooperative’s farmer members in tackling whatever challenges they may face so that we can continue to buy their delicious triple-certified coffee for our blends here in the UK & Ireland.
Adapt Now Initiative with M&S
One of our strategies for doing this has been to partner with our customer - M&S, along with the ethical trading company – Twin, and Fundoempleo - a Peruvian organisation designed to finance projects that enhance sustainable employment opportunities. This ‘Adapt Now’ initiative has been operational for a year now, with the objective of helping member producers to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and water scarcity - and to build their capacity to produce a more sustainable supply of certified coffee.
Xavier Hamon, Twin Trading’s Climate and Environment Officer, visited the cooperative in July to assess and report on the improvements that have been made.
One of the key activities for the project was to assist farmers in achieving Rainforest Alliance “certification, enabling them to differentiate themselves from competitors and implement beneficial and relevant adaptation and mitigation strategies. So far, training has been provided to 26 technical staff and a further 146 farmers will be assisted in achieving the certification by March 2015. Farmers have reportedly found the training to be highly engaging and are eager to learn more, confirming that the project is responding to a need highlighted by the producers themselves.
Farmers have also been equipped to manage and conserve water more effectively. Firstly, tubes and tanks have been supplied to farmers so that they can start to either ensure a clean water supply to their homes or decant waste water away from their farms following coffee processing. Some of the waste water has started to be utilised in a productive way, for instance in composting or producing bio-pesticides which producers may otherwise have to purchase. Secondly, farmers have been encouraged to plant and maintain trees in the buffer zones around water sources so that they are protected and erosion is prevented. With the aid of a financial incentive 780 native trees have already been planted by the farmers. Thirdly, workshops have been taking place across the community, with the aim of sensitising farmers to water conservation and management issues.
Xavier’s visit confirmed that significant progress is being made towards achieving the project goals through working with the cooperative, and the activities are making important contributions towards helping producers become more environmentally sustainable.
Matthew Algie Visit 2014
We also know from our own recent visits to San Juan del Oro that support from the cooperative has been particularly beneficial for farmers in the last couple of seasons, when they have faced pressure from erratic rains and significant outbreaks of “roya” or coffee leaf rust.
Juan Aguirre Chambi Mamani is a farmer that we met on our last visit. He has owned his farm, Alta Gracias, since 1972. Located at around 1,700m above sea level, the farm is a few kilometres from the small village of Curve Allegra in South East Peru, close to the border with Bolivia. Alta Gracias is a 10 hectare farm with 3 hectares of coffee nestling alongside maize and sustainable forest.
Juan Mamani has shown his commitment to quality by retaining his sweet tasting red and yellow fruiting caturra variety of arabica rather than transitioning to lower quality but higher yield varieties. He’s also invested in solar dryers and new washing and fermentation facilities on his farm. However, despite his hard work and investments, Juan has struggled to manage the effects of climate change and “roya” on his crop in the last two seasons and he has seen his yields drop by more than ¾. To help him to become more resilient to these challenges, the cooperative has assisted him in planting new shade trees so that he can build the right micro-climate for his coffee and stabilise the steep terrain on his farm. Furthermore, he has planted new coffee trees which he hopes will thrive with his careful treatment with organic friendly fungicides and pesticides.
Elsa Cauha Glavez is a member of the San Juan del Oro co-op and grows coffee on her family small-holding in close to Putina Punco in SE Peru. Like many of the co-op members, Elsa is installing water pipes and valves to direct water to her pulping station rather than redirecting streams. This makes sure that water is kept clean and away from household and other farm activities before being used to pulp coffee to maximise quality. It also helps reduce erosion on the farm and to maximise the area for crops. Simple strategies this are helping San Juan del Oro members adapt to climate change challenges on their farms and Matthew Algie are pleased to support this project along with M&S Plan A funding.
San Juan del Oro Producer Meeting
We visited San Juan del Oro again this summer and met with producers to discuss their progress on the long-term climate change adaptation project we are supporting along with M&S Plan A funding. The co-op have also had to focus in the short-term on climate change related coffee leaf rust (Roya) that’s impacting on most of their farms. The Café & Cacao programme is also helping them with training on leaf rust control and measures to improve quality as well.
To guarantee that the cooperative can keep providing the vital support to farmers in the area of increased resilience, we look forward to continuing to buy green coffee from them and also backing the continued operations of the project with our partner organisations. We’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.