Between 2013-15, Matthew Algie worked with the San Juan del Oro Coffee Cooperative in Southern Peru as part of a collaborative project focussing on adaptation to climate change and good water stewardship.
Following on from the success of this award-winning project, 2015-18 saw Matthew Algie partner in a multi-stakeholder programme alongside UK retailer Marks & Spencer; coffee roasters Taylors of Harrogate and NGO and not-for profit trader, Twin.
This alliance aimed to further increase the resilience of coffee farming for the both the San Juan del Oro & CAC. Pangoa Cooperatives and address a broad range of issues impacting smallholder coffee communities. These included:
- Sustainable agriculture: Increase yields and quality (through better technical assistance for farmers) in a way that preserves and cares for the natural environment.
- Gender: Encourage greater equality at the household level and improve female farmer’s engagement with cooperative.
- Youth: Encourage young people in the area to remain in coffee.
These interrelated issues meant that coffee farming in the region was becoming less viable and it was felt addressing these issues together was more likely to yield sustainable, long-term results which would benefit all parties involved.
Over the past 3 years, our collaborative project has witnessed great success in addressing the many issues highlighted in relation to sustainable agriculture, gender and youth engagement in coffee farming.
Through training in new farming techniques and practices, workers are now able to produce organic compost and fertiliser for themselves. This has assisted in helping the coffee farms increase their yields dramatically (+56.8% – from an average of 10.5qq/ha to an average of 15.92qq/ha). Cupping scores have also improved across the board with the San Juan del Oro cooperative recording consistent cup scores of 80 points and above.
Progress has also been made regarding breaking down cultural gender norms amongst families – helping to create a more balanced division of household labour & promotion of male and female equality.
Following GALS training (Gender Action Learning System) 94% of participants said the training has had a direct impact on gender roles and dynamics within their households. They report that more responsibilities are shared, that the husband and children have a better understanding of the work that women do, there’s an increase in decision making amongst women and even greater ‘tranquillity’ at home as the biggest impacts.
Both cooperatives have also witnessed an increase in female membership and the number of women in leadership positions grew from only 3 to 31.
Success of the project has also been seen in youth engagement with over 450 young people trained across both cooperatives via workshops such as barista training, cupping, cacao processing (Pangoa), leadership, farm management and coffee value chain. This has led to an increased number of young people becoming members of the cooperatives (from an average of 8% to 20%).
Speaking on the project, Esperanza, General Manager of the Pangoa Cooperative said:
“By involving (youth) in the production and the
business side of things they will be more motivated, they can see more
possibilities. The young coffee farmer of the future needs to have a
profession, they need to be something else, the young person of today is
dynamic and we need to offer them a chance to develop themselves.”