Sustainable cocoa and coffee

Peruvian coffee, among the best of South America

March 15, 2023

Coffee has become a source of employment for more than 2 million Peruvians. Cooperatives represent 32% of coffee exports (JNC, 2019); however, 80% of producers run their farms without technical management or business advice. This shows clearly that the sector needs to be professionalised.

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in Jaén, Cajamarca, and in Satipo, Junín

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1,389 coffee producers

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The challenge

Peruvian coffee: engine for development

International palates sure appreciate Peruvian coffee. The Andean country has been developing a specialty coffee industry for several decades now in response to international demand. The industry is characterised by local efforts in fair trade and organic production.

In this context, coffee has become a source of employment for more than 2 million Peruvians and 223,738 families (MINAGRI, 2017). They cultivate 70% of the country's main traditional agricultural product. Due to its international market ambitions, the coffee sector and its cooperatives have become key to agricultural and production policies. Cooperatives represent 32% of coffee exports (JNC, 2019); however, 80% of producers run their farms without technical management or business advice. This shows clearly that the sector needs to be professionalised. On top of that, climate change threatens the income source of millions of coffee farmers, who have to deal with resistant plagues and a continuous increase in production costs.

Our approach

In Peru, Rikolto promotes of the participation of agricultural producer organisations in the specialty coffee market, with inclusive businesses and sustainable practices that improve the quality of life of small producers and their families. Together with a network of allies, we bring the sector closer to a standard of professionalisation and improve its commercial and financial performance, generating better opportunities among the stakeholders in the value chain, as we contribute to its sustainability.

  • We support the improvement of business and social performance of coffee producer organisations, as they continue to professionalise and incorporate young people and women into their businesses.
  • We contribute to a favourable environment that promotes inclusiveness and sustainability for their competitiveness in the agri-food sector.
  • We work with the private sector and show them the benefits of buying from professional and organised coffee cooperatives, not only when it comes to quality, but also so that they can be sure that their product is produced in a socially and climate-friendly way.
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1. Inclusive and sustainable business for the acquisition of quality coffee

  • Professional organisations are the foundation of inclusive business. New capacities, acquired during the programme, attracted clients who now invest in business development and generate benefits for 1,389 coffee producers in the partner cooperatives. Young people in the business, the training of new leaders, the improvement of internal processes and new computer systems for decision making all contributed to the success.
  • Leadership schools in Cajamarca have trained more than 200 representatives of coffee producers in Leadership Schools, facilitating their engagement in decision-making spaces. This allowed them to develop their management skills, and knowledge of governance mechanisms, trade logistics, accounting and cooperative finance. Young people make up 64% of the professional staff in our partner coffee cooperatives, which is extremely important for the long-term sustainability of these businesses.
  • Young and professional women participate in the organisation. They make up 64% of the professional staff in the partner coffee cooperatives, putting the talent of the new generations to the test and ensuring an equitable future for the business.
  • Coffee producers who are members of one of our partner cooperatives have seen their annual income increase by 20%. Quality management was key to achieve this. The average quality in cup improved from 82 to 84 points thanks to the project's specialised technical assistance.
  • Ability to negotiate with financial institutions. Institutional capitalisation policies (i.e. the systematisation of experiences within the institutions), designed and facilitated by the project, allowed our partners to negotiate new agreements and reduced interest rates (from 11% to 9%) with financial entities.
  • Post-harvest innovation to improve productivity. Investment in post-harvest practices and infrastructure resulted in growth in productivity and sales per producer. Over the three-year period, annual productivity (producer/ha) rose from 0.37 to 0.48 kg in the case of the Aprocassi cooperative and from 0.39 to 0.47 kg in the case of the La Prosperidad de Chirinos cooperative. The producers of each cooperative then saw an increase in their sales of parchment coffee to the organisation from 2.65 to 3.67 tonnes per producer to the organisation. In Prosperidad it went up from 2.48 to 3.05 tonnes.
  • Growth in exports. In three years, Aprocassi and La Prosperidad de Chirinos increased their annual turnover by 40%, thanks to the extension of contracts or new business concluded for international markets. Their export volumes increased from 4,817.8 tonnes to 6,700 tonnes.

2. Design of coffee landscapes

  • On the way to carbon-neutral coffee. We promoted the first national study of environmental footprint and carbon capture in organic coffee. Based on the Life Cycle Analysis methodology, results were obtained at the level of global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication. The study allowed the cooperatives to establish models of agroforestry systems and define clean production practices for coffee exports (with lower environmental footprint and higher carbon sequestration) preferably to European markets.
  • We facilitated round tables and dialogues at the multisectoral and local level (Cajamarca) around the implementation of Agroforestry Systems in Coffee.
  • Response to climate change. As part of the programme, 315 cooperative producers adopted better agricultural practices, improving their productivity even within a climate change context.
  • New lines of eco-friendly business. Coffee husk and honey production in partner cooperatives are led by women and young people, who contribute with their income to diversify the income of the cooperative and families in times of crisis.

Who do we work with?

Allies during the intervention

  • Public organisations: Commission for the Promotion of Peru for Export and Tourism (PromPerú), National Institute of Quality (Inacal)
  • International cooperation: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Non-governmental organisations: Slow Food, Producers Direct, TRIAS, Central de Café y Cacao
  • Academic institutions: Latin American Centre for Rural Development - Rimisp (Rural Dialogue Group), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), Universidad Nacional de Jaén (UNJ), McGill University (Canada)
  • Companies and associations: Cassiopeia Specialty Coffee Roasters, Northern Technical Network Cooperative
La Prosperidad de Chirinos Coffee Farming Cooperative
Multi-Service Cooperative Aprocassi
Pangoa Coffee Agrarian Cooperative
Province of Flemish Brabant


Mariela Wismann

Good Food for Cities programme director in Latin America | Regional director

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