Peru’s Perfect Brew for Positive Change Across the Coffee Sector

Jul 10, 2017

Exported to more than 50 countries, Peruvian coffee is famous for its high quality. But, despite its global popularity, this vital national industry faces many challenges. Poverty is widespread among the 223,000 small farming families who grow and pack most of Peru’s sought-after coffee beans. The industry’s competitive growth is also lagging and it is increasingly driving deforestation across the globally significant Amazon basin.

Solving these complex problems will require all stakeholders – growers, buyers, retailers, government and civil society – to agree on a shared vision and to take coordinated action. Brought together by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation as well as the National Coffee Board, more than 100 representatives from across the sector met last month for the first time to start devising a National Action Plan for sustainable coffee.

This landmark meeting is part of a process started in 2015, whereby the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its Green Commodities Programme, and with support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs - Economic Cooperation and Development (SECO), has been working with the government to set-up a National Coffee Platform. This Platform, which is under construction, provides a space where different stakeholders can work together towards a sustainable coffee sector.

Capturing the excitement and high expectations generated by the first gathering, coffee producer, Efraín Chipana Pichanaki said: “It’s so motivating to see the Ministry of Agriculture, the private sector, the National Coffee Board and us producers in the same space … this is the first time that I believe it is feasible to make a big change.”

Managed sustainably, the sector has the potential to help pull hundreds of thousands of rural Peruvians out of poverty and to protect unique biodiversity. These are the key visions driving the development of the new plan.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for the country to get out of the current situation. Thousands of families want to find in the coffee an opportunity for a better life; and that quality of life is what we want to achieve with this plan,” says Ricardo Huancura Perales, Managing Director of Peru’s leading coffee exporter, Perhusa.

During the meeting, stakeholders agreed to set-up six working groups, which are now tasked with exploring and proposing solutions to the underlying causes of poverty and environmental damage associated with the coffee sector. These causes include: deforestation, weak institutions and marketing, low productivity and poverty among farmers, who also lack the means to invest in their farms. These were identified earlier through an analysis supported by the Green Commodities Programme and SECO.

The plan will ultimately aim to promote the quality of Peruvian coffee, drawing a better price and boosting consumption both nationally and abroad. At the same time the plan will seek to strengthen coffee institutions so that they can better protect the environment and support farmers. The agreed plan will be implemented and funded through public-private programmes, projects and activities.

“This plan needs to be innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and a generator of competitiveness,” says María del Carmen Sacasa, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Peru.

But, participants know that there are no quick fixes. Developing first draft of the plan is expected to take until early next year. The UNDP Green Commodities Programme and SECO will continue to support this vital process over the long-term.