Fair Trade Coffee in Peru: An Economist's Notebook

Travelogue of a social scientist studying Fair Trade on a Fulbright in Peru. Personal anecdotes and interviews with coffee growers, importers, and exporters, as well as Andean cultural leaders, Limeña intellectuals, business people, professors, writers, and anyone else I meet on the journey. Fair Trade as both an alternative to the dominant model of globalization and as a way of life that is practiced by an increasing number of people who testify to its great benefits.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Enjoying Lamas!

Hey everyone! I´ve been spending the last 2 weeks TAing for a Living Routes course on Fair Trade, native culture, and ecology here in Lamas, in the northern part of Peru. For details please check out our website: http://www.livingroutes.org and search for the Peru course. It´s a great group of students and it´s been a lot of fun. We´ve spent the last 3 days with Dean Cycon, pioneering Fair Trader and founder of coffee roaster Dean´s Beans: http://www.deansbeans.com. Dean has generously shared with us fifteen years of knowledge and experience in the Fair Trade coffee business, in three four-hour lectures jam-packed with information, passion, personal narrative, and social critique.

Dean and Oro Verde, the coffee co-op we´re working with here in Lamas, have just reached a historic agreement - the first written long-term (i.e., multiyear) Fair Trade contract between a roaster and a co-op. Way beyond a higher price, this agreement spells out a series of mutual projects - in the areas of product diversification, marketing, environmental protection, and community development - that Dean and Oro Verde are going to do together. With the help of Dean and Oro Verde, our study group will write a draft of this agreement, and research and explain every element of it - the economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues and personal stories that lie behind the projects. In this way, we will help make visible to our colleagues and friends in the North the previously invisible lives of the growers. We´re psyched!

Well, there´s a lot more to tell, but no time to tell it just now. I ended up spending over a month there in Pangoa, from November 21 to December 23, and learned a ton about cooperatives, coffee, organic agriculture, local ecology, and Fair Trade - among other things! You´ll hear it all in good time.


Anonymous Kevin McCarty said...

Hola Noah, I´ve been following your blog for a few months now. Rob Clark of Transfair Canada forwarded me your link as I am working in Bolivia on a Fair Trade project as well.
Always interested in learning about all the other fair traders out there. Good luck, Kevin McCarty

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