Coffee producers San Fernando in times of corona virus


San Fernando coffee cooperative in Peru, located 13 hours away by road from Cusco, with more than 420 members, is facing the situation caused by the coronavirus using various strategies within a complex context. It is important to start mentioning that the lockdown measures dictated by the Peruvian government in order to control the pandemic have caused great difficulties in internal transportation, which in turn has meant that coffee farmers face problems to supply to the local markets with other products such as cassava or avocados. They produce this complementarily to the coffee production to obtain additional incomes, waiting the peak harvest season of coffee (May). It means that is has been almost impossible for them to move their products to the towns and neither to buy basic food, because they are not available in the local markets for the same reasons.

These two factors has been observed by the cooperative San Fernando, which has had a quick response, making large-volume purchases of food in the city and, through its own transportation, has been able to deliver a basic food basket to its members as an advance for their harvest and selling at cost price, without no margin for the cooperative.

On the other hand, the disbursements of the credit lines from the social banking which San Fernando is already client, are being delayed more than expected, since there has been a coincidence in the date of renewal of powers of the board of directors and the beginning of the lockdown. In practice, the powers already expired in March, but the directors have not been able to renew them because the government institutions authorised for renewal are closed. 
For this reason, financial Institutions are afraid of making disbursements under these circumstances. At the moment, a Law has just come out that extends these powers for the SACCOS until July, but it is not explicit for the productive cooperatives, a quick response from the government is expected. The manager of San Fernando could obtain the recommendation from a big company (Equal Exchange) that is its customer in order Shared Interest can facilitate disbursements in short time.

Along of this context, Agriterra has offered information through webinars about health protocols that must be taken into account for cooperatives and encourage them for its prompt implementation. Likewise, Agriterra keeps informed to clients about the measures dictated by the government that are of direct interest for them.

Parallel to these activities, the action plan with San Fernando for 2020 has been reconsidered and it is being restructured, with the objective that can respond to the real needs of the organisation within the new complex conjuncture.

Sandra Esaine, business advisor Peru


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