Celebración por el Día del Cooperativismo Peruano

Por Trilce Oblitas

En el contexto actual peruano se abre paso un proceso que desafía el relacionamiento entre lo urbano y lo rural, así como la aproximación a las realidades rurales desantendidas por décadas. Este proceso resalta la necesidad de revalorizar las estructuras organizaciones que representan al mundo rural y semi rural acostumbrado a estar postergado en la toma de decisiones.

Reafirmado por el gobierno Peruano y el Ministerio de Desarrollo Agrario y Riego (MIDRAGRI), este proceso de cambio incluye la implementación de una Segunda Reforma Agraria que coloca al Cooperativismo como uno de sus ejes y que debe ser promovido.

A lo largo y ancho de Perú, hoy se celebra el día del Cooperativismo Peruano y es imperativo abordar su importancia, siendo descrito como, de acuerdo a la Ley General de Cooperativas, un “sistema eficaz para contribuir al desarrollo económico, al fortalecimiento de la democracia y a la realización de la justicia social.” Hoy 14 de diciembre, día en el que se conmemora el Cooperativismo Peruano, es valioso poner sobre la mesa de discusión lo que representa el sistema cooperativista y cuál es su pertinencia en la inclusión integral de la población rural que, con igualdad de participación y derechos, debe liderar las decisiones que impliquen una mejor calidad de vida para los y las miles de productoras en nuestro país.

De las más de 400 cooperativas agrarias en Perú, las cooperativas cafetaleras que son parte de la red de Producers Direct cumplen con la responsabilidad de hacer llegar un café de alta calidad a la mesa de millones de personas en el mundo y que debe, mirando de adelante hacia atrás, generar el desarrollo económico-social para las miles de familias cafetaleras y sus comunidades principalmente.

El movimiento cooperativista además es una clara expresión de lo que implica una gestión económica y social de abajo hacia arriba, con rendición de cuentas y transparencia, solidaridad, así como la participación democrática y el compromiso con la comunidad. La continua formalización y el impacto social que representa una estructura organizacional como el Cooperativismo, que además mantiene vigentes formas ancestrales y consmovisiones en el relacionamiento con la tierra, cooperación entre pares, hace que hoy más que nunca, sea necesaria para lograr una gestión trazable y sostenible.

Ahora es cuando podemos hablar de generar un valor agregado que sitúe la producción agrícola en el eje de desarrollo y la necesaria industralización en el sector.

Ahora es cuando hablar de seguridad alimentaria implica también una real soberanía alimentaria.

Ahora es cuando podemos avanzar en el accesso a condiciones dignas y justicia social para el mundo rural.

La ola cooperativista debe ser pomovida desde todos los sectores, privados incluidos, buscando unidad, reflexión y sinergías que nos permitan avanzar sin exclusiones. Los principios cooperativistas que rigen este sistema de cooperación y relacionamiento en el mundo rural,  son los que en el marco de una Segunda Reforma Agraria, deben ser fomentados, ajustados, fortalecidos y replicados.

¡Feliz día del Cooperativismo Peruano, a seguir trabajando juntos y juntas!

Taking Stock – Highlighting our Impact so Far

As an organisation, we will continue to strengthen our network of farmers and harness the collective energy of the 1.7M smallholders in our network. As a team, we’ve looked back at what the last decade has taught us and identified these five top learnings to help us reflect, learn, and plan as we look ahead. 

1. WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER 

While farmer leadership is critical, empowering farmers to join forces to tackle global challenges is a gamechanger. Our community of smallholders is our greatest asset, and it is this powerful community that has the potential to rewrite the future for sustainable and inclusive food systems. 

2. DATA IS POWER 

Recent shocks, from Covid-19 to rapidly changing climates, have reinforced the importance of placing actionable, real-time data and digital services into farmers’ hands. 

3. TRAINING ALONE ISN’T ALWAYS ENOUGH 

A 2016 survey revealed that post-training 85% of farmers did nothing. This was for farmers inside and outside of our network, indicating a systemic failure in rural development to incentivize behaviour change and catalyse income improvements. Investing in farmer-led design and providing a package of support services will drive sustained change for all members of smallholder communities. 

4. MARKETS UNLOCK INCOME IMPROVEMENTS 

An evaluation of our work illustrated the powerful impact of investing in markets. We learned that farmers who sold crops into local markets increased their incomes by ~50%. Honey and banana led to the highest increase. Selling small volumes individually yielded the lowest income improvements because smallholders competed with each other, had limited bargaining power and wasted time and money traveling to market. Power lives in our vast community of farmers; when we connect this network digitally and aggregate their surplus, we will change food systems from the grassroots. 

5. IT’S TIME FOR FARMERS TO OWN FOOD VALUE CHAINS 

Smallholder incomes will not improve until they are capturing a higher value for their crops. And this will not happen until farmers, not upstream actors, hold power and are making a fair income from their crops and products. 

Jóvenes peruanos comparten sus experiencias, lecciones aprendidas y aspiraciones tras las capacitaciones a las que asistieron durante la pandemia

Desarrollo de Capacidades Laborales y Emprendimientos Empresariales Juveniles’ es un proyecto de CENFROCAFE, una de las cooperativas socias de Producers DIrect en el norte de Perú, la cual se enfoca en la producción de cafés especiales, tostado de café y apoyo al comercio y desarrollo de sus socias y socios. El objetivo del proyecto es parte de la iniciativa institucional de Cenfrocafe para apoyar a la próxima generación de agricultores, al involucrar a las y los jóvenes en la capacitación y aprendizaje sobre temas como gobernanza y liderazgo generacional.

Desde 2014, Cenfrocafe ha estado trabajando en este proyecto con financiamiento de PRET y en 2020 Producers Direct se ha asociado con ellos en la gestión y desarrollo del mismo.

El impacto devastador de la pandemia en la vida de las y los jóvenes en Perú no debe subestimarse. Y aunque sabemos que las y los jóvenes podrían beneficiarse enormemente de las capacitaciones habituales en persona, fue crucial que volviéramos a planificar las actividades de nuestro programa para garantizar la salud y la seguridad de todas y todos los participantes durante la pandemia.

Cambiamos el modelo de nuestras sesiones de capacitación de presenciales a virtuales y trabajamos en estrecha colaboración con las y los jóvenes para reprogramar las sesiones, decidir las opciones que eran más accesibles para ellas y ellos y para seleccionar los horarios que funcionaran mejor. Realizamos capacitaciones virtuales a través WhatsApp, SMS y llamadas telefónicas. Además de eso, nos acercamos a las y los jóvenes a través de capacitaciones por radio y en persona en grupos pequeños, manteniendo los protocolos de seguridad contra la Covid-19.

A través de nuestro programa de radio semanal llamado “Aprendo en Campo”, que se emitía en Radio Marañón de Jaén, llegamos a miles de personas, entre ellos muchas y muchos jóvenes. El programa de radio también fue transmitido en vivo a través de Facebook, donde tuvimos entre 1.1K y 1.3K visualizaciones.

Estamos felices tanto por la participación como por el impacto de las sesiones de capacitación. Las y los jóvenes informaron que aprendieron mucho y planean utilizar las lecciones aprendidas en el futuro. A continuación se muestran tres historias de jóvenes que asistieron a las sesiones de capacitación, destacando sus experiencias, desafíos y esperanzas para el futuro.

 

Walter Segura Fernández, 19, Base San Luis del Milagro, Jaén

Soy estudiante de administración de empresas y lo que más me gustó de la formación es aprender sobre la venta de café tostado y molido. Aprendí mucho de la capacitación, a catar café y a manejar plagas y enfermedades. Planeo implementar estas lecciones en la agricultura. Además, ahora puedo ver muchas oportunidades en las que podría involucrarme, como convertirme en barista, por ejemplo.

Usaré lo aprendido para llegar a otras y otros productores y aprender de ellos también. En el futuro, planeo tener una planta de procesamiento de tostado molido. Me gustaría animar a más jóvenes a que también formen parte de la capacitación. Hay mucho que aprender sobre el café y hay muchos aspectos diferentes del cultivo de café en los que pueden aventurarse.

 

Karina Lisbeth Collantes Guevara, 20, Base Perla Andina, Distrito de Huabal, Jaén

Soy estudiante de la Universidad de Jaén, estudio Silvicultura Ambiental. Lo que más me interesa es aplicar lo que aprendí en las sesiones de capacitación en nuestra parcela y compartir el aprendizaje con mis padres. Ahora, sé mucho sobre cómo manejar mi vida diaria, cómo manejar los desafíos que experimento en la parcela y también sobre el manejo de plagas y enfermedades para poder producir café de alta calidad.

En el futuro, me gustaría que las sesiones de capacitación duren más tiempo de manera que nos permitan practicar lo que hemos aprendido. Ahora que he aprendido a secar café, podré mejorar la calidad del café de mi parcela. Como joven productora, espero poder traer café de mejor calidad a la cooperativa y me gustaría convertirme en una catadora de café. También me gustaría tener mi propia cafetería.

 

Emely Johany Guerrero García, 17, Base Rinconada, Distrito de Coipa, San Ignacio

Soy estudiante de un curso de producción agrícola. Durante la capacitación, tuvimos visitas de campo, que disfruté mucho. Aprendí sobre la crianza de animales y la medicación animal y sobre cómo mejorar la calidad del café en beneficio tanto de los productores de café como de las cooperativas que lo reciben.

El principal desafío que enfrenté fue llegar al lugar de las capacitaciones. Me tomaba dos horas ir del distrito La Coipa, a un caserío. Y cuando llovía, las carreteras estaban en mal estado, lo que hacía aún más difícil viajar.

Pero me alegro porque ahora sé cómo diferenciar los granos de café y seleccionar los mejores, así como estimar cuánto cosechar por hectárea. Ahora puedo analizar el tipo de café que producen mis padres y decir si es un café de buena calidad. También tengo conocimientos en cata de café, por lo que soy capaz de identificar cafés de alta calidad que se pueden vender en el mercado internacional.

Gracias a las capacitaciones, ahora puedo enseñar a mi familia a producir el mejor café para que siempre suministren café de buena calidad a las cooperativas. Las lecciones que aprendí también me ayudarán en la escuela porque estoy estudiando sobre producción agrícola.

Me gustaría animar a más jóvenes a que también se unan y formen parte de las sesiones de capacitación para que puedan aprender más sobre todos los aspectos de la producción de café, para que todas y todos podamos mejorar la calidad de nuestro café. También me gustaría animar a quienes formaron parte de la capacitación a compartir con sus familias lo aprendido, pues un buen manejo de nuestras parcelas cafetaleras nos permitirá producir café de buena calidad, lo que hará que nuestra cooperativa tenga una gran representación a nivel nacional y a nivel mundial.

 

Young Peruvians share their experiences, lessons learnt and aspirations from trainings attended during the pandemic

‘Desarrollo de Capacidades Laborales y Emprendimientos Empresariales Juveniles’ (‘Development of Work Skills and Youth Entrepreneurship’) is a project by  CENFROCAFE – a Producers Direct cooperative partner in the north of Peru focussing in speciality coffee, coffee roasting and supporting the commercial and community development of its members. The goal of the project is part of Cenfrocafe’s institutional initiative to support the next generation of farmers by engaging young people in training and learning on generational governance and leadership.

Since 2014, Cenfrocafe has been working on this project with funding from PRET and in 2020 Producers Direct has partnered with them in the management and development of the project. 

The devastating impact of the pandemic on the lives of young people in Peru cannot be understated. And while we know that the youth could benefit greatly from the usual in-person trainings, it was crucial that we replanned our program activities to ensure the health and safety of all the participants during the pandemic. 

We changed the model of our training sessions from in-person to virtual and we worked closely with young people to reschedule the sessions, decide on options that were most accessible to them, and they selected times that worked best for them. We conducted virtual trainings on WhatsApp, SMS and through telephone calls. In addition to that, we reached out to young people through radio and in-person, face-to-face trainings in small groups while maintaining Covid-19 safety protocols.

Through our weekly radio program called “Aprendo en Campo” (Learning on the Farm), that was broadcast on Radio Marañón in Jaén, we reached thousands of our audience, including young people. The radio program was also broadcast live through Facebook, where we had visualisations between 1.1K to 1.3K.

We are pleased by both the turnout and the impact of the training sessions. Young people reported that they learned a lot and they plan to use the lessons learned in future. Below are three stories from the young people who attended the training sessions, highlighting their experiences, challenges and hopes for the future. 

Walter Segura Fernandez, 19, Base San Luis del Milagro Jaén

I am a student of business administration and what I liked most from the training is selling roasted and ground coffee. I learned a lot from the training too, like cupping and how to manage pests and diseases. And I plan to implement these lessons in farming. Additionally, I can now see many opportunities that I could try and get into, like becoming a barista.

I’ll use the lessons to reach out to other producers and learn from them too. In future, I plan to own a processing plant for ground roasted. I would like to encourage other young people to also be part of the training. There’s a lot to learn about coffee and there are many different aspects of coffee farming that they can venture into.

Karina Lisbeth Collantes Guevara, 20, Base Perla Andina, Distrito de Huabal, Jaén

“I’m a student at the University of Jaén, studying Environmental Forestry. I am most interested in applying what I learned from the training sessions in our farm and sharing the learning with my parents. Now, I know a lot about managing my day-to-day life, how to handle the challenges I experience in the farm, and also about managing pests and diseases so that I can produce high quality coffee. 

I’d like for future training sessions to schedule more time to allow us to practice what we’ve learned. Now that I’ve learned how to dry coffee, I will be able to improve the quality of the coffee in my farm. As a young producer, I am looking forward to bringing better quality coffee to the cooperative and I’d like to become a coffee taster. I’d like to own my own coffee shop too.”

Emely Johany Guerrero García , 17, Base Rinconada Distrito de Coipa San Ignacio

“I am a student taking a course in agricultural production. During the training, we went for field visits, which I enjoyed a lot. I learned about animal breeding and animal medication and about how to improve the quality of coffee for  the benefit of both the coffee producers and the cooperatives that receive the coffee. 

My main challenge during the training was getting to the training location. It would take me two hours to go from the district La Coipa, to a caserío. And when it rained, the roads were bad, making it even harder to travel. 

But I’m glad that I now know how to tell the difference between coffee grains and then select the best grains, as well as estimate how much to harvest per hectare. I am now able to analyse the kind of coffee my parents produce and tell whether it is good quality coffee.  I also have knowledge in coffee cupping, so I am able to identify high quality coffee that can be sold on the international market. 

Thanks to the training, I can now teach my family about how to produce the best coffee so that they always supply the cooperatives with good quality coffee. The lessons I learned will also help me in school because I am studying about agricultural production.

I’d like to encourage other young people to also join and be part of the training, so that they can learn more about all the aspects of coffee production so that we can all improve the quality of coffee that we produce. I also would like to encourage those that were part of the training to share with their families about what they learned, because good management of our coffee farms will enable us to produce good quality coffee, which will make our cooperative have great representation at the national level and at a global level.”

Engaging Young Kenyans in Agriculture: Producers Direct Partners with Young Kenyans and Key Stakeholders

Throughout June-August 2021, we ran an exciting new campaign in partnership with the UK-Kenya Tech hub. The Youth Direct Na Agribiz campaign aimed to reach out to youth across Kenya to understand their knowledge and attitudes about working in the agriculture sector, uncover inspirational youth-led innovations, as well as hear from key experts in the industry to discuss how best to support youth in developing their skills and enabling them to transform their agribusinesses.

Reaching young people has been a fundamental goal for Producers Direct and for five years, we have been working with youth groups across our network. At the beginning of 2021, we launched the Youth Direct programme in Kenya to widen our reach and create awareness of the opportunities for youth in agribusiness. In the long term we aim to provide a platform where young people can interact with their peers and other strategic partners and establish thriving agri-enterprises in Kenya and beyond.

Due to the public health measures and associated Covid-19 related restrictions, we decided to hold digital county showcases, in partnership with county tech hubs across Kenya – Nyeri, Kisumu, Mombasa Taita-Taveta in June and July. We selected these counties by assessing a range of county level and national documents and policies and based our final decision on a range of criteria including Geographical Representation, Value Chain Diversity, balance of Agro-ecosystems(Inclusion of Marine Ecosystems, Youth Centered Initiatives and Momentum for Growth.

In these county showcase events, hosted and moderated in partnership with the Producers Direct team and representatives from each of the county hubs, young agribusiness innovators shared their agri-tech and agri-business innovations across a broad range of value chains – including horticulture, poultry, dairy and apiculture, their challenges and successes working in the sector while still engaging with key stakeholders in the industry and other youth who are not currently working in the sector. Reflecting on the success of the showcase event, one of the youth agripreneurs from the showcase events said, I’d like to tell my fellow young people doing agriculture to focus on developing solutions that will solve the problems that farmers face.’ 

“I’d like to tell my fellow young people doing agriculture to focus on developing solutions that will solve the problems that farmers face.

A World Bank report in 2015 stated that 1billion young people will enter the job market in a decade, but 600m will not find employment. We conducted an online survey in August, where 89.7% of young people told us that while agriculture can create employment opportunities for young people in Kenya , 78.2% noted that inability to access loans and capital is their biggest challenge when they think about starting an agribusiness venture. Additionally, young people from the showcase events told us that while they are interested in starting businesses in agriculture, they face many barriers to entry into the industry – from limited capital, lack of good will, limited market, scarcity of land, unreliable water, and limited information among many other challenges which discourage them from making an income in the sector. The role of the government and key stakeholders in working together to address these challenges cannot be understated. Involving Kenya’s youth in agribusiness, by presenting opportunities across the value chain in one of Kenya’s biggest industry is crucial now more than ever. 

Over 300 young agripreneurs, county and private-sector representatives were part of the county showcase events. And from these county showcase events, we identified and selected top agriculture innovations by young people and invited them to a final Digital Innovation National Showcase that was held on 19th July 2021. The virtual showcase saw  young agripreneurs from 24 out of the 47 counties in Kenya  showcase their work and share with their peers in the field, how they’ve innovated in their agri-enterprises and how they are earning an income from agribusiness. It was also a chance for youth in agribusiness to engage with strategic partners in the public and private sectors to interact, share knowledge, create linkages and offer avenues for partnerships. Looking back at the showcase, one of the event’s speakers said ‘For a young person, the first step when getting into agribiz is finding out which of the existing programmes work best for you within the value chain in order to collaborate and learn.’

The top three winners of the National Showcase won cash prizes that will go towards expanding their agriculture ventures, alongside an opportunity for mentorship from key experts in agriculture. The other top finalists and youth entrepreneurs from the county showcase events, will continue to engage with their peers in the sector and further interact with public and private sector officials in their specific counties. The National showcase attracted over 193 registrations with representation from 14 counties in Kenya. The event was also made possible through speakers from our partner organisations like Mercy Corps AgriFin, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO Kenya),Syngenta Foundation, Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), STEM 2030, Silikon Consulting, Equity Bank and Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics.

In partnership with Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, we’ve conducted a quantitative analysis of the youth participants who attended the showcase events. Results from the survey shows a 10% increase in knowledge around agripreneurship, and a 2.5% increase in their attitudes towards agriculture. While this has not yet translated to any change in behaviour, this positive shift in young people’s knowledge and attitudes about agriculture is likely to inspire more young people to venture into the agriculture industry and many more organisations investing in interventions that are aimed at securing the future of agriculture in Kenya.

The Youth Direct campaign was an opportunity for stakeholders in the agriculture industry to bridge the existing gaps that prevent young people from engaging in the agriculture sector. Going forward, we aim to create more platforms like these for many more youth to learn and engage and take up agribusiness.