Peru is one of the top 20 coffee producers in the world, and is ranked 5th in Arabica exports. Peru had established coffee growers on its coast for many years before it became an exported crop; most coffee grown there was used for domestic consumption and there was little interest in exporting Peruvian coffee. Years later, it was cultivated in areas further from the coast, and after the Peruvian Corporation completed its Central Railway it was cultivated in the Chanchamayo district. In the 1970s, many large dry mills were established near ports to streamline exports. Quantity was valued over quality, but recently that model has changed and modern methods have been introduced, creating higher quality Peruvian coffee and ensuring that a vast majority of the country’s coffee is fair trade and organic.
A group of 50 small-scale coffee farmers from Peru’s Chanchamayo region came together in 1966 to form the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera La Florida (CAC La Florida) in order to bypass local intermediaries. Their efforts have brought much needed education, infrastructure, credit and environmental restoration to this remote corner of the Peruvian jungle.
Since 1966, the organization has grown to include 1,200 members at its peak. These benefits emphasize the socio-economic development of its members and the protection of the environment. Their education programs provide training for members, workshops on coffee production and management sessions for community youth. This includes access to new libraries, school gardens and uniforms. CAC La Florida believes their children are the future of the cooperative and must therefore provide support in educating strong leaders capable of management roles. In 2010, CAC La Florida began to develop social performance indicators on which to evaluate their existing programs and develop new ones tailored to the needs of members and the community.
CAC La Florida’s commitment to environmental protection has led the cooperative to educate farmers on how to protect the soil from erosion, retain moisture and restore its fertility. Members believe it is vital to support the ecosystem as it is home to many different species of insects, birds and animals. For over thirteen years, CAC La Florida has been committed to providing high quality, organic coffee to buyers and continues to strive for improvements in environmental protection, the quality of life of community members, and the quality of their product.