COOPARM: Coffee Producer based in Peru
Grown on soaring mountain ranges in rich volcanic soil, or on farms nestled in valleys surrounded by forests, Peruvian coffee is known for its full-bodied aroma and taste. The Amazonas region is one of the main coffee-growing areas in the country and is sometimes referred to as ‘the capital of ecological coffee’ due to the high proportion of organic coffee produced there.
COOPARM (Cooperativa Agraria Rodríguez de Mendoza) is a coffee co-operative located in the province of Rodríguez de Mendoza, in the Amazonas region. The co-operative was founded in 1991 by 100 farmers and obtained organic and Fairtrade certifications in 2008. In 2010, COOPARM became a Shared Interest customer when we provided finance to support the co-operative in exporting their coffee.
Shared Interest finance enabled COOPARM to support farmers in preparing their land for harvest, and provided payment when the coffee was collected. A couple of years later, the co-operative used a Shared Interest loan to acquire machinery and equipment for their dry mill.
Pictured: COOPARM Member Wilmo Rodriguez holds coffee beans.
Our Conversation with President of the Women's Commitee, Elizabeth Arista Salazar
On Gender Equity
Elizabeth said: “This is my second year as President. I want to keep on doing this to make sure that the female members of the co-operative are happy. The main vision for the Women’s Committee is that we are given visibility of women’s issues and women’s needs - as mothers as well as producers. Women are responsible for bringing up the children and organising the household. Some are single mothers. We don’t have much in the way of resources ourselves.
“The Women’s Committee is important for the family. At home, I have three daughters. The eldest daughter is nearly finished her primary school teacher training. She is going to be a primary school teacher. My second daughter is 20 and is studying nursing and the youngest is 17 so she is at the end of secondary school. The focus is on education for our children so that they do not suffer the way we did, that our parents did.”
“The main vision for the Women’s Committee is that we are given visibility of women’s issues and women’s needs - as mothers as well as producers. Women are responsible for bringing up the children and organising the household. Some are single mothers. We don’t have much in the way of resources ourselves. The Women’s Committee is important for the family. At home, I have three daughters. The eldest daughter is nearly finished her primary school teacher training. She is going to be a primary school teacher. My second daughter is 20 and is studying nursing and the youngest is 17 so she is at the end of secondary school. The focus is on education for our children so that they do not suffer the way we did, that our parents did.”
Elizabeth told us that a small amount of Fairtrade Premium is given to the Women’s Committee: “We meet to decide what to do with it. We might buy seeds. We might use the money to support a female member who is ill or who is in particular need at any time.
On Coffee Production
Shared Interest has provided support to COOPARM for over a decade and the co-operative uses their facility all year round. Due to farmers being located at different altitudes, they harvest coffee continuously and the finance enables them to pay farmers when their coffee is collected. COOPARM supports farmers by sending trucks to pick up the large sacks of coffee from nearby collection centres.
Elizabeth said: “The production starts at home. The ripe coffee cherries go into a pulping machine, which is like a bath and you leave them to soak overnight. The cherries that aren’t ripe float to the top, so you take them out with a sieve, and the rest is de-pulped - the outside of the cherry is taken off to leave the coffee bean. The beans are washed and left out on big trays in the open air and dried in the sun.
“Once they are dried, they go into sacks that are stored off the ground on wooden shelves so they don’t pick up damp from
the ground or insects or anything from the floor. Either those sacks are brought to COOPARM headquarters or they are taken
to collection centres in the communities and villages. A COOPARM truck will come out to collect them, which is better for
the member as they don’t have to pay for transport. That is a facility that the co-operative offers us as producers - we need that help.”
We asked Elizabeth if male and female farmers carry out similar roles. She replied: “The women and men do the same jobs,
according to how strong they are. The women will tend to be responsible for making and taking food for the day. The men might do carrying, such as the sacks of coffee. People do what suits them best. We are very united, rural people and the men and the women support each other equally if anyone needs help.”
MOVING FORWARD AND EXCELLING THROUGH GENDER EQUITY
"I ask the people who are watching us to please value women. Here, we do not have a gender distinction, we work hard and do incredible things.
"We are people who can select the grains, red grains, and green grains, to get a good harvest. In this area, in our hamlet, women have a very important role.
"So now we women will not stay behind, we will go forward, yes, we can get our families ahead, because nothing is too hard for women when we are determined."
Pictured and Quoted: Elizabeth Arista Salazar, President of COOPARM's Women's Committee, holds some coffee beans.
Our Conversation with General Manager Ramiro Bocanegra
Ramiro Bocanegra became General Manager of COOPARM in 2014 and told us that the co-operative faced many challenges. Shared Interest was the sole social lender supporting the co-operative at that time. For this reason, he said:
“Shared Interest is at the heart of COOPARM.”
Ramiro’s immediate focus was on ensuring COOPARM farmers became known for the quality of their coffee and saw it as
important that they had the right facilities in place to achieve it. For this reason, COOPARM headquarters now has its own cupping laboratory, along with a compost plant, warehouse, and a large processing plant nearby. In addition, there are six collection centres to facilitate the delivery of coffee from farmers, especially those located at higher altitudes.
Due to farms being located at different altitudes, COOPARM harvests coffee continuously and so the co-operative uses its Shared Interest facility all year round. Ramiro told us: “The Mendoza valleys are unique. In the first months of the year, we may not have lots of coffee but there will be cherries because of the geography. I had experience working with the communities and, most importantly, have their trust.”
A Transcendent Relationship with their Work
"Getting to know how we get to Mendoza and meet the lands that are being destined for agriculture will give (customers and consumers) a new vision.
"In particular, they will comprehend the sentiment we have in the co-operative. That (there is) something spiritual our members experience.
"I want to thank Father, and the members who trusted us in 2014, after a great economic crisis. And thanks to God, to teamwork between the members and us, we have got ahead. Even now, trust is maintained, with its backs and forth, with its little problems, with the small emotional crisis, to say it some way.
But always trust is what helps us go forward and had survived one of the biggest coffee crises in the history of humanity.
Products from the Producer
Interested in supporting COOPARM by directly purchasing their product? In 2015, MAYORGA partnered with the COOPARM co-operative and became their first ever direct U.S. roaster to purchase their coffee. You can make a subscription or a one-time purchase of the Peruvian coffee in 12oz, 2lb or 5lb sizes, as whole bean, course, medium or fine grinds.Purchase COOPARM Coffee