The promise of Peru, La Divisoria´s Quest for Quality

Peru is really well positioned to produce large volumes of high quality specialty grade coffee to the benefit of both growers and consumers. 

In Peru, as in all of the South American countries where the physical geography is very challenging (steep mountain jungle), each grower has his/her own washing and drying station.  A farmer may have several parcels of land devoted to coffee, but these parcels are widespread, and to get to them a farmer may have to walk an hour or more, by mountain path.  Here it is simply too far for farmers to use a central beneficio, as is the norm in Central America and Mexico.  This is beneficial in that farmers aren´t subject to the perishability problem of cherries (ripe cherries have to be processed within 12 to 24 hours after picking), and exercise more influence over the quality of the coffee (responsible for fermentation, washing, drying) and presumably earn more than if they just sold their cherries.  But it also means farmers work extremely hard, in the same day having to walk to pick coffee cherries, picking ripe cherries, transporting picked cherries back over tough terrain, and then having to de-pulp the cherries and place them in the fermentation tank.  Any coffee fermented from the previous day would also have to be washed and set out to dry to make room for the new coffee.

 Again because of the challenging physical geography, virtually all coffee in Peru is grown by small-scale growers.  Only a minority are organized into coops however (between 20 and 30%). There is considerable potential for the cooperative movement here to grow, and for Peru to produce specialty grade coffee in large volumes by improving the technical skills of growers. 

 La Divisoria is ambitious and they have a very clear strategy for success for their members.  Because their members are smallholders who by definition can only produce small amount of coffees—if growers focus on producing the best quality, they will earn the highest premiums and be successful. 

 Because farmers control their own coffee to the parchment stage, equipping them with the tools and skills to be able to evaluate coffee, in real-time during the harvest season using the mobile lab, offers huge potential for quality improvement, and the opportunity to earn higher prices for their coffee.

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