10 Strangers Believed in this Coffee Farmer in the Mountains of Peru
Photos and story by Gordon Thompson, Kiva Fellow
Compiled and edited by Rourke Healey, Kiva Partnerships Marketing Intern
Perhaps it’s fanciful to suppose that something delicious should come from somewhere beautiful, but in the case of Avelino’s farm in northern Peru, it’s true. The farm where he grows exquisite coffee beans is breath-taking, tucked away among mountains shrouded in mist and lush with vegetation.
The road to Avelino’s is equally stunning. Two days north of Lima, it takes 3 hair-raising hours on a motorcycle to reach him from town. Along the way are many small waterfalls and panoramic vistas.
Avelino Perez, 62, grows the type of high-quality beans that coffee drinkers covet. Last year he took out a Kiva loan of $325 to buy compost and fertilizer to grow his yield. Ten lenders from around the world supported his loan.
Avelino knows his trade well and when asked about growing coffee he offers encouragement.
“Preparing the ground is difficult,” he said. “After that, all is easy.”
He happily shares his knowledge of coffee and the nuances to planting and harvesting coffee beans. Ripe coffee “cherries” are sweet, but unripe ones are tasteless. Not all ripe berries are red; Avelino has one variety that ripens yellow. Most plants mature at the same time, but not all: within a few feet are some whose “cherries” have deteriorated into husks, while others are still flowering.
“Coffee is the best crop for Peruvians,” Avelino says. Even though many of the profits still go to distributors and processors in Europe and the United States, he nets far more than he would with low-margin crops like corn, beans or potatoes. He earns a comfortable life for himself and his family by selling his product for about 2 or 3 soles (approximately a dollar) per kilo.
Avelino is a modest man of expansive gestures and simple words. When discussing his future dreams, he said he would like to improve his house, send his children to school and pay medical expenses.
He has successfully repaid 100% of his Kiva loan to his 10 lenders, each of whom lent $25-$50.
You can help small scale farmers like Avelino at www.kiva.org. To support others in Avelino’s area, and the microfinance organization that works with Avelino (Edpyme Alternativa, Chiclayo, Peru), click here.