Peru Day 1, July 21, 2015
Welcome back to the 12th installment of the Direct Trade Peru blog! I seriously cannot believe that I have made this crazy journey twelve times! Just when I think I have had enough of the long car rides, Peru seems to suck me right back in.
Yesterday for once I spent a relaxing day in Lima, visiting old haunts, meeting up with our local COSA representative to review, of all things, our Nicaragua baseline data, and eating as much ceviche as possible. It has been almost 5 years since I last actually left Lima airport to spend a day in the city, and it was a real treat to take a day of rest between all of this crazy travel! Alas, this morning Fernando and I had a 3:45 am wake up call for our early morning flight to Chiclayo. Harvest has just started in Peru, so there is no reason to go to the Piura dry mill just yet. There isn’t really any specialty volume moving through there at the moment, so I will leave that fun excursion to David in the fall J
The morning was mainly uneventful; we met up with Deuder at the Chiclayo airport and hit the road straight to Jaen. We were here by noon! Fernando and I chose the early flight so that we could spend a little more time in meetings with the Cenfrocafe staff before heading off to farm visiting tomorrow and cupping and transparency audits on Thursday. It is really satisfying to arrive at Cenfrocafe and recognize all of the faces here. I am so lucky to have had working relationships with the same main group of people here for the past 6 years. It leads to a level of transparency and trust that is not easily achieved, for both involved parties, and that is hard to find in the coffee world! After a quick lunch, Fernando and I sat down with the president of the co-op, Anner, the general manager, Reuben, head of Quality Control, Alexander, and our seller extraordinaire, of course, Elmer. That each of these people took two hours to sit down and discuss the status of Cenfro with us on our first afternoon here was very telling of how seriously Cenfrocafe takes the relationship with Farmer Brothers. I was very happy to be part of such a distinguished group!
Here’s a summary of our status update with Cenfrocafe
-Big surge in membership, 350 new members this year, bringing the total membership of Cenfrocafe to 2,600.
- Because of so many new applications for membership, executive council set up basic entry procedures for new applicants to maintain quality of members: at least 1 hectare of land, at least 20QQ of production average per hectare, willing to work in groups, can be vouched for by at least 2 neighbors who are co-op members.
- Last year total volume exported was 13.2 million pounds (315 containers)
-Total 2015 volume expected around 15.7 million pounds (375 containers)
-Increase in volume made it necessary to expand to more dry mills. All specialty coffee will stay at Norandino, commercial and FTO generic lots will be split between Rainforest Mill and Coinka Mill.
-Harvest running late, trying to catch up to early shipments that were promised. They expect bulk of harvest to come in August and September, and come all at once (based on flowering and rain patterns)
-Credit lines updated and process for loaning credit standardized amongst members. Each case evaluated separately, different loan rations based on land, years on membership, and coffee yield. Finance department now has separate arm that deals with credit inquiries
-cupping lab fully set up in San Ignacio, 5 cuppers training there who are sons and daughters of members.
- Youth program set up in areas of cupping, roasting, baristas, finance, commercialization, technical assistance, and audits. Idea is to create the next generation of leaders of Cenfrocafe.
- Tech assistance with FT Premium. Recommending 10% renovation per year of aging coffee trees, help to mitigate rust and other diseases, also keeps income consistent for the producers. Also encouraging producers to stay with quality varietals instead of switching to disease resistant that may decrease cup scores. Other support from the cooperative includes training for establishing nurseries, good plant establishment, and good fertilization techniques.
- Cenfro also investing in research projects, World Coffee Research, joint ventures with University of Korea and Peru National Coffee Council, and others.
-Co-Financing for infrastructure projects on coffee farms from national and regional governments- partnership with the Peruvian National coffee council.
I know, this is sort of a dry summary of the day, but it’s been a really long one for me! Give me a break! I am really happy to see the passion with which Cenfrocafe is investing both in the younger generations as well as groundbreaking research in the coffee sector. Cenfrocafe’s support of WCR projects is directly in line with Farmer Brothers, and demonstrates the alignment of priorities between us and the organizations with which we choose to work. Cenfrocafe has 10 total hectares of land which they have dedicated to WCR varietal research, with the goal of supporting the Peru coffee council as well as WCR in coffee varietal and good practices research projects.
My last order of business was to let this group at Cenfrocafe know that this would likely be my last trip for a while, since I am in the process of handing our Peru project off to David Pohl to manage. Their response was surprised, and they were pretty sad to see me go. I think most of the fear comes from not knowing what Farmer Brother’s relationship will look like in the future, but I assured them that David would be a wonderful replacement for me! This was just the first announcement that I had to make, and I am sure it will be a lot harder with the producers tomorrow. We have spent a lot of time together over the past 6 years, and it will be really strange to not say that I will see them all in a few months after the harvest. I sure do hate on this trip, but man do I love it once I get here! I will miss this place a whole lot!