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Origin Stories: Peru Norte

Coffee cherries.jpg

In Aotearoa there is a whakataukī “Ehara tāku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini”* (my strength (and success) are not mine alone but that of the collective). This could easily be the whakataukī of the Cooperativa Agraria Rodríguez de Mendoza (COOPARM).

Located in the Rodriguez de Mendoza Province amongst the luscious rainforest in the Amazonas region, COOPARM was founded in 1990 out of a recognition that individual farmers were receiving a low price for their coffee. At a local and regional level, COOPARM is now recognised as the institution that has had the greatest positive impact on the economic and social development of the Province.

COOPARM has been successful because the producers have worked as a collective to produce great coffee. The higher altitude, fertile soils, biodiversity and mild climate, together with the technical training provided by COOPARM, organic practices and hand harvesting ensure the final product is of excellent quality.

The Peru Norte single origin is a perfect example. Beginning with a light citrus aroma, there’s sweet caramel and ripe stone fruit flavours in the cup. We’re savouring the rounded, soft acidity, winey body and lingering sweetness.

ABOVE: Guadalupe and Eva picking cherries in Eva’s plot

Working as a collective has brought many benefits to these producers. COOPARM has helped to ensure organic production, encourages crop diversification and the infrastructure and practices to protect the ecosystem for future generations. These producers are working together to make a better life for themselves and their descendants. Despite being made up of over 500 members, they still describe themselves as a family.

ABOVE: Ronald’s solar dryer that has passed from his father to him.

At the same time, many of the producers say that it is still challenging to make a decent living even with the benefits that the cooperative and the fair trade premiums offer. The work is relentless, with year round harvesting. Additionally, even with the premiums the price for coffee is still low and makes it difficult to be sustainable when the crops continuously require additional paid labour. As one farmer Ronald Trigoso Rodriguez says, growing high quality coffee takes significant effort and investment and the price should reflect that.

Despite these challenges, these producers remain hopeful about the possibilities that belonging to COOPARM and producing Fairtrade organic coffee can offer. Using our collective strength for the common good is what Common Good Coffee’s all about. Choosing Peru Norte from COOPARM is one more way we can do that.

For more information visit COOPARM

*This whakataukī is attributed to Paterangi of Ngāti Kahungunu.

Thanks to Trade Aid Importers for the photos.

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