“When I was a girl, there were no cooperatives. My parents did not have the resources for me study. That’s one of the things that has changed,” Maria Cera, a coffee farmer within the Acropassi, Cooperative de Servicios Multiples, located in San Ignacio, north of Lima, Peru.
The Cooperative of 505 small scale farmers, of which 68 are women, takes a holistic approach to sustainability in their community. Built on a respect for the natural environment, the Cooperative has worked to reduce their use of synthetic fertilisers and has achieved organic certification for much of their coffee.
Fairtrade certified since 2001, Acropassi has been a long-standing partner with Fairtrade and Grinders Coffee, cultivating more than 1,500 hectares of high quality coffee plantations located between 1,100 and 1,800 metres above sea level. Getting to Acropassi requires a commitment to long windy and steep roads, that is reminiscent of a bygone time but the quality of the coffee, is second to none.
Becken Bauer, President of the Administration Committee, said “Our objective at the beginning was to improve quality … it was hard for producers to get good incomes… now it has improved. Thanks to all those people who created certifications and the benefits they can get from that and … thanks to our hard work, we have been able to overcome it.”
With the support of Grinders Coffee Roasters, the Cooperative has also been able to run programs to build the capacity of its members, such as improving financial management and organisation development. Training for farmers has been a critical need for the Cooperative and with financial support they have been able to educate farmers on improving the quality and productivity of their coffee; and through this, they have been able to improve their standard of living for all cooperative members and their community.