APROECO is a coffee cooperative consisting of 357 members operating near the Alto Mayo Protected Area in Northern Peru. From its inception in 1999 until 2008 it worked as a partner of Pronatur, but has worked independently since.
APROECO is a non-profit association with an important social base of over 350 members that was founded in 1999 through a partnership with Pronatur. Until 2008, Pronatur handled all commercial aspects of the business from consolidation of crops to its exports to international buyers. However, due to issues of FairTrade, the companies split, leaving APROECO in need of commercial maintenance and development. In 2010, APREOCO participated in the SCAA conference that provided an excellent opportunity to connect with buyers and begin direct negotiations on its own. APROECO produces a total of 1,160 hectares of coffee with Organic, FLO Cert, and UTZ certifications. FairTrade certification also assures a minimum price and demands that the organization maintain an annual premium of $10/bag for AGM agreed social investments.
Volcafe’s representation in Peru, Prodelsur, works as a commercial partner with APROECO to help facilitate international transactions. As a marketing strategy, APROECO has been undertaking great efforts to improve the quality of its coffee to better compete in a global arena. Sustainable harvest is supporting the organization with intensive training and quality control systems, including visits to the SH Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. APROECO provides many services to its members such as maintaining FLO and Organic practices , technical support and training, quality control, and access to several types of finance ranging from commercial to individual.
In 2010 VV provided working capital to APROECO to help with expenses related to commercialization, expansion and distribution in the wake of its split with Pronatur.
APROECO is improving sustainable production methods in buffer zones of the alto mayo protection forest and important watersheds of municipal conservation areas. After cattle ranching, coffee production provides the biggest potential threat as well as opportunity to conservation efforts. The watershed of the forest harbors many threatened plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth, and forms part of the Abiseo-Condor-Kutuku Conservation Corridor. Runoff from the Alto Mayo forests gives rise to several major rivers which ultimately flow through the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin and provide a source of clean water for local communities and agricultural production. The certifications held help to eliminate negative effects of agricultural practices such as soil erosion, agrochemical use, and poor watershed and agroforestry management.
Associates’ families depend on coffee production and commercialization through APROECO. They also produce some other crops for their own food security. APROECO is supported by local projects that cover operational costs such as some of the employees’ salaries. The Alto Mayo River secures subsistence fisheries for indigenous populations, representing up to 42% of their protein intake. In the future, the financial sustainability of more than 8000 downstream families and about 35000 regional inhabitants will depend on economic alternatives to protect the forest.