2,000 alpaca keepers take production chain into own hands

Coopecan in Peru is a cooperative of alpaca keepers. Between 2012 and now, the cooperative has taken enormous steps forward: from the procurement of its own alpaca fibre processing machines and the establishment of two trademarks.

Coopecan traditionally focusses on increasing the production of alpaca fibre. More than 2,000 small producers benefit from this process. Coopecan is mainly active in the regions Cusco and Ayacucho.

Steps taken in 2011 and 2012

In 2011, Coopecan entered the international market. While the cooperative initially mainly exported 'alpaca tops' (washed, combed and carded fibres)the cooperative also tried to enter the competitive world of fashion in 2012. Local designers were hired to create clothing collections. These designs were presented at the Peru Moda trade fair in 2012 and 2013  and permitted Coopecan to position itself more firmly in the market.

Strengthening the production chain

In autumn 2012 the cooperative decided to strengthen the production chain. The cooperative wanted to increase and improve fibre production, as well as providing its members with more added value. Agriterra was brought in to work on an advisory and training process, which was to continue over several years.

With the support of the Peru Opportunity Fund (POF), a project was conducted with the alpaca keepers in Puquio and Sicuani. The aim: better quality alpaca fibres, and therefore a higher income for the producer.

In 2013, the following significant step was taken: Coopecan registered the trademark 'Pachaqaytu' for its traditional yarns, produced in the branch in Sicuani, as well as its own clothes and accessories label, 'Alparcas'.

Closure of alpaca fibre processing company

2013 heralded the arrival of a significant challenge for Coopecan: in February, the alpaca fibre processing company closed down. An attempt was made to find another partner, but the quality did not appear to be up to standard. Fortunately, following negotiations with the new owners, Coopecan was able to continue with the collaboration. In August, processing was up-and-running again. In addition, the cooperative acquired its own machines in autumn 2013 for processing alpaca fibres, thanks to a loan of 530,000 dollars from Oikocredit. As a result, the cooperative ensures a consistent quality of its products and continuity in its revenue.

Strong leadership structure

Another important step during this period was the selection of a new cooperative chairperson. To this end, ten representatives from the various organisations received training in leadership, communication and finances. Their performances were evaluated and a suitable chairperson subsequently chosen. Training the ten leaders actively contributes to an improvement in communication between the members and gives them a better insight into cooperative documents.

There was also an increase in the (international) marketing of the alpaca products. The number of international clients rose from four to seven, and the cooperative also attracted two new national customers. Despite the fact that the processing company wasn't available for considerable time the cooperative presents now a fine example of entrepreneurship that's now paying off for all the alpaca keepers involved. 






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