Fancy a coffee?

28 Jun 2016

How our new partner Root Capital is helping Peruvian agricultural enterprises to become local economic engines, transforming smallholder farmers and their communities in the process.

Perched high atop a steep mountain in the lush Cajamarca region of northern Peru sits the town of Chirinos. Chirinos’s vibrancy stems from an aptly named coffee cooperative: La Prosperidad de Chirinos (C.A.C. Chirinos), or, in English, the Prosperity of Chirinos.

With roots tracing back to the late 1960s, C.A.C. Chirinos initially sold its coffee on the local market, bringing only modest profits, at best, to its members.

In the early 2000s, that began to change.

With the help of several multi-year loans from Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund and recent partner of Cartier Philanthropy, Chirinos has invested in new services to improve the productivity and, ultimately, the long-term resilience of its members’ coffee farms.

“We want to be more than a coffee cooperative. We want to offer multiple services, and engage in activities that go hand-in-hand with coffee, to benefit our members and their families. The cooperative has really supported the economic growth of families in Chirinos. In the last few years, I have seen many families invest in their children’s education and make improvements to their homes.”

Lenin Tocto, general manager of C.A.C. Chirinos.

Today, C.A.C. Chirinos boasts a membership of 725 farmers – over seven times larger than it was only a decade ago and sells its high-quality coffee for premium prices to fair trade, organic and specialty buyers in the United States and Europe.

The support of the cooperative has enabled us to improve our lives” comments Ignacio Mijahuanca Ramirez, a member of the cooperative for ten years. “We’ve received technical and financial support from the cooperative when we needed to rehabilitate our older, unproductive farms…The cooperative has helped whenever we’ve needed anything - whether that’s money or other things we need as farmers - and that’s why we continue working with them.”

C.A.C. Chirinos’s emphasis on supporting member farmers has been at the heart of the cooperative’s success over the past several years and will fuel the focus on resilience for years to come.

More recently, Root Capital provided C.A.C. Chirinos with a multi-year loan to finance the rejuvenation of its members’ agroforestry coffee farms. By pruning old or diseased coffee trees, farmers can significantly increase their productivity and improve their bottom line.

Looking forward, the cooperative has been exploring the viability of expanding into cocoa, farm-raised trout, small animals and other livestock for income diversification and food security purposes. As the cooperative prepares for the future, continued investment in climate-smart production methods, like fertilizer facilities or farm replanting, will be critical to ensuring that smallholder farmers in supply chains such as coffee, build their capacities toward long-term resilience.

Find more about our support to Root Capital here and watch this 3-minute video to understand Root Capital’s approach.