Puno, Peru | Nov 2013
CECOVASA borders Peru’s protected, lush and wild Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. To the naked eye, the borders of this park are hard to discern and the tropical landscape within the park merges with the surrounding coffee farms and communities. These conditions, and CECOVASA’s careful and sustainable cultivation methods, produce fantastic coffee that in turn invests in the health and future of this impressive ecosystem.
Carly, our Green Buyer, visited CECOVASA this summer, as their harvest was in full force. In addition to the sustainable techniques they use, Carly was struck by a less obvious but powerful environmental impact that this co-op is having: employing farmers in specialty coffee cultivation instead of the two other dominant employment options in the area: mining and coca farming (to make a coca paste which can be sold to be made into cocaine).
Both mining and coca production are destructive. The environmental consequences of mining are more commonly known, but coca – in addition to social and legal consequences – is also notorious for pesticide use, in stark contrast to both organic philosophy and impact. Coca plants don’t require shade, so land is clear cut and mono-cropped, leading to a slew of potential environmental complications such as erosion and depletion of the soil’s nutrient content, compromising the land’s ability to sustain other crops and people.
CECOVASA is combating these encroaching industries actively, by incentivizing coffee cultivation. They are using quality premiums and practical technical assistance to reaffirm with members that coffee production is better for themselves, their communities and the environment.
View photos from Carly's trip here.
MEET THE CO-OP BEHIND ORGANIC EXPEDITION: CECOVASA Co-op, Peru
We've never seen a client here before... I feel so happy now that I know where our coffee is going.
-Reyna Isabel Mamaniluque, Inambari Cooperative
CECOVASA (The Organization of Agrarian Coffee Cooperatives of the Sandia Valleys), was founded in 1970, when a group of Peruvian coffee farmers in the Lake Titicaca region came together to avoid selling their beans to exploitative middlemen, and instead process and export their beans collectively. CECOVASA now includes eight coffee co-operative communities that are comprised of mostly Quechuan and Aymara indigenous peoples near the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and the Tambopata-Candamo Nature Reserve. These communities are very remote, 10 to 15 hours by truck from Juliaca, the nearest city.