A History of High Quality Coffee
Characterised by rugged mountains, deep valleys, and dense forests and situated in the Central Jungle of Peru, the region of Pangoa has a rich cultural and ecological past.
With a long history of coffee farming dating back to the early 20th century, coffee was first introduced to the region by migrants from the Andean highlands who settled in the area and started cultivating coffee as a cash crop.
Additionally, the formation of co-operatives and farmer associations in the area helped to consolidate the local coffee industry and empower small-scale farmers.
Today, the main economic activities in Pangoa are agriculture and forestry, with coffee being the most important cash crop. During the mid-20th century, coffee production in Pangoa expanded rapidly, and the region became known for producing high-quality, organic coffee beans.
In the 1960s, the Peruvian government established the National Coffee Institute (INCAFE), which helped to improve the quality and productivity of coffee farming in Pangoa and other regions of Peru. Subsequently in 1977, a group of coffee farmers met with the idea of setting up a co-operative in Pangoa itself.
Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera (CAC Pangoa) was then born and today the co-operative works with over 700 coffee and cocoa farmers with the aim to improve economic income and raise the standard of living for members. They have been a Shared Interest customer since 2010, receiving loans to renew and expand their coffee crops.
Founder, Esperanza Dionisio, said:
“As with any organisation, commitment, drive, insistence, union and a great desire to achieve, (lead) the determined group (to persist) in meeting after meeting until the co-operative was set up.”
Social and Environmental Impacts
Also an Agronomist and General Manager, Esperanza, has been working at the co-operative since 1981 and is one of the few female managers in Peruvian co-operatives. She is well known in the industry and won the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Sustainability Champion Award in 2019.
In recent years, CAC Pangoa has become a hub for sustainable and organic coffee farming, with many small-scale farmers using environmentally friendly practices to grow their crops. CAC Pangoa runs various social programmes for its members and families:
- A housing fund to improve living conditions
- A health fund to provide preventive health and emergency procedures
- An education fund, providing long-term loans with the aim to cover educational expenses of members
- Social and environmental projects such as the planting of forest and fruit trees on members’ farms, demonstration plots for the training on soil and water conservation
Commercial Manager, Albino Nuñez, said:
“The loan from Shared Interest has a lot of impact, particularly the loan without contracts helps us to count with early funding that allow us to have a prompt payment to our members."