“That plot right there,” Victor said with a slight nod toward a block of dense, leafless plants, “was painted red with coffee cherries last year.” Standing on a steep mountainside high in the Chanchamayo province of the Peruvian Andes, only silence seemed appropriate as we shared the weight of the panorama in front of us. This coffee farmer’s plot, healthy and productive the year before, was reduced to sticks by the coffee rust blight that claimed as much as 40 percent of the production in affected coffee-producing regions across Central and South America throughout 2013. Standing on that barren hillside, I could feel the emotion and deep vulnerability in his empty stare down the valley.
Pressing onward together up the steep, wooded path, Victor showed me a second small parcel covered with healthy, two-year-old coffee trees he planted that were topped with dense green leaves, though not yet of productive age, and banana palms intercropped with purposeful spacing to provide a shade canopy and soil-preserving compost material. With a long-term loan from his cooperative, a Root Capital client, Victor was able to make these investments in renewed and diversified productive capacity, climate adaptation, and food security.
During 2013, Root Capital’s Financial Advisory Services (FAS) team worked with nearly 300 agricultural businesses globally. In Central America specifically, that effort focused on internal credit system management, equipping rural enterprises with the tools and know-how necessary to provide small loans to individual producers like Victor for on- and off-farm investments.
In 2014, the FAS team plans to scale that experience across Latin America under the Coffee Farmer Resilience Initiative to ensure that timely, affordable credit is available at the end of the dirt road, both to agricultural enterprises and individual farmers faced with the daily reality of pests, weather risk, and extreme volatility in the commodity markets.
For more information on Root Capital’s Advisory work, take a look at our new video below featuring two Peruvian coffee clients, C.A.C. Chirinos and Aprocassi, where credit plus financial capacity building have enabled both cooperatives to manage growth and make critical investments in farmer resilience.