October 15, 2010 Coffee from Peru's coca-growing VRAE region wins national contest

By Mario Sandoval

VRAE coffee growers
In the VRAE region, the Peruvian government and USAID is promoting coffee as an alternative to growing coca.

Yesterday, Café Típica, a coffee produced by a farmer from the Apurimac river valley, won the first prize in Peru's most prestigious coffee competition.

Alfredo Yuccra, a member of an Apurimac river valley coffee farmers’ co-op was the winner of this year’s VI Concurso Nacional de Cafés de Calidad. The competition is organized by the National Coffee Board, the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID’s Alternative Development Program and the Peruvian Chamber of Coffee and Cacao Bean.

Coffees from 14 coffee-producing regions were entered in the contest. After 347 coffee samples were received and evaluated, 111 were qualified for the national stage. The selection process concluded with a grand finale in which a jury (consisting of five international and five national judges) chose the best Peruvian coffee production of this season, taking into account the acidity, aroma and body of the coffees served in cups.

Last year's winner of this competition, Wilson Sucaticona, went on to win the contest organized by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), in which his coffee, Café Tunki, was recognized as the world’s best.

Coffee as alternative to coca

The Alto Huallaga, the Ene and Apurimac River Valleys (VRAE region), are the main coca-growing regions in Peru.

According to El Comercio, Alfredo Yuccra’s success proves two things. First, that not everything in the VRAE region is related to the Shining Path, terrorism and drug trafficking. It also shows that alternative crops are a viable option for farmers.

Facts about Peruvian coffe:

* Coffee Tunki went on to cost from US $350 to US $1,000 per quintal in recent months.
* Peru's coffee regions are Jaén, San Ignacio, Rodríguez de Mendoza, Moyobamba, Tarapoto Lamas, Tocache, Tingo María, La Merced, Satipo, Villa Rica, Pichanaki, Apurimac River Valley, Quillabamba and San Juan del Oro.
* Brazil is the largest supplier of coffee in Latin America, with 60 million bags, followed by Colombia and Peru, with 17 million and 4 million bags each.
* Peru cultivates about 1,500 square miles of coffee.
* There are 110 companies and 37 organizations that produce and export coffee in Peru.
* Coffee export earnings in Peru amounted nearly US $600 million in 2009.
* The main destination of Peruvian coffee exports is Germany.
* 3,513 coffee-farming families in the San Martín, Huánuco and Ucayali regions take part of the USAID’s Alternative Development Program

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Comment by Josue Morales on November 8, 2010 at 10:46am
Great success story! I believe the path to sustainability is paved with quality. As long as Latin American producer continue to walk the curve of quality and strive to create unique and special coffees the industry in general will continue to find better income and development opportunities for our farmers.


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