Producer Cooperative Spotlight: Pangoa
Just past the Andes Mountains is an area of Central Peru called San Martin de Pangoa. Here a cooperative has been formed, the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa. Founded in 1977 this co-op was made up of 50 local farmers. After its start, the group began to pick up some traction, and by the mid 1980’s the group had grown to 1,200 members. Each member agreed to set aside three percent of every sale for internal investments. This collection was integral to the infrastructure that is still used by the co-op today.
Despite the growing strength of the cooperative and their increasing progress, an epidemic spread across the community, one of a very gruesome nature. The militant group called the Shining Path started a guerrilla war within the country. In doing so they killed thousands of innocent people throughout the region. Pangoa ended up losing hundreds of farmers who had to flee for their safety.
After the attacks and violence that lasted almost 20 years Pangoa began to rebuild in the early 2000’s. In 2001 Pangoa gained its Fair Trade certification and developed two additional programs, the Education Fund and the Health Services Fund. Pangoa also took this time of reconstruction to become fully organic through programs and training for its farmers. Today Pangoa has slowly regained its membership and is now made of about 700 famers.
In 2005 Cooperative Coffees joined forces with Pangoa and began shipping their coffee. Pangoa’s coffee is very distinct in its flavor. The coffee has a medium body filled with cocoa notes as well as almond and berry flavors. Because of this partnership Pangoa was able to participate in the Regenerative Soil Workshop. Cooperative Coffees was also able to involve Pangoa in a specific program, The Centres of Excellence Program. This program took a small group of farmers that served as a showcase to experiment with the best organic practices. Quickly other members were interested in participating in the program because they saw how important it is to integrate local resources, reforestation, and organic best practices.
Pangoa does so much more for their farmers beyond the sales of coffee. They have diversified their economic input by producing cocoa in their lower regions as well as honey. They have also brought their roasted coffee to local markets.
Pangoa is a great model for Cooperatives as a whole. They truly show the power of local farmers within Fair Trade.