Cooperative Norandino: when agriculture, microfinancing, and solar energy work together

Cooperative Norandino: when agriculture, microfinancing, and solar energy work together

November 5, 2018 at 5:15 PM - by Madeleine Levine - 0 comments

A longstanding Oikocredit partner supporting small-scale coffee, cocoa and sugarcane farmers in Peru

From humble beginnings, this co-op has grown from 200 members in 1993 to 6,000 members today. The Norandino Cooperative is a respected agent in Peru, with a focus on selling organic coffee to specialty markets in North America, Europe, and Asia. The cooperative does much more than coffee - products include from coffee, cacao, sugar and jams, and projects to benefit their members include marketing and technical training, as well as crafts and tourism.

Facilitating a More Efficient Process

In the Amazonas region of Peru sits the Norandino collection center, a long, corrugated warehouse amid the coffee and cacoa farms of the Piuran mountains of northeastern Peru. Inside the center, rows and rows of small almond-shaped beans line waist-high racks. These beans will become cacao, and the drying process is extremely important for the final taste, quality, and quantity. Historically, the drying process required a lot of patience; farmers would dry the fermented beans by sunlight, sometimes taking up to 7 days for a single batch. This meant drying was impossible during the wet season, limiting production.  Seeing the farmers’ need, the Norandino center acquired solar dryers. Farmers are able to produce high quality cacao during all seasons, which means more crop and more income for everyone in the cooperative.

Cooperativa Agraria Norandino Ltda (Norandino) is a cooperative active in the processing, commercialization and export of coffee, cocoa and panela (unrefined cane sugar). The co-op represents over 3,000 farmers mostly located in the Piuran mountains of northeastern Peru. They offer members loans and a network of international buyers; as well training in marketing, finances, and technical skills. Norandino has been an Oikocredit partner since 2006 with a loan of $1,200,000 used mostly as credit to support the harvest season and provide farmers assistance.

Supporting Smallholder Family Farms

Elber Calle Huancas is a member of Norandino cooperative. He lives in the Amazonas region with his wife and four children. Elber owns almost four hectares of land. He grows 2.5 hectares of cacao, which is enough to support his family. With the rest of the land, he grows food for his own family to eat. Elber began growing cacao six years ago. Before that, he grew bananas, maize, and yucca – all staple foods in the area, but they didn’t earn him enough money to support his family. Cacao is the only crop that provides a decent income because it can be marketed and sold more widely. Elber joined the Norandino co-op three years ago because their pay rates were higher than what other buyers were offering. He participated in the capacity building program offered through the co-op which taught him important, useful skills for growing better crops. He says the quantity and quality of his produce has since improved. Elber says he likes to work in the field. His goal is to upgrade his farm, provide a secure income for his family, and keep working on his crops. Through loans, trainings, technical assistance, and more, the Norandino co-op is supporting Elber keep his family farm going strong.

Technical Assistance for Better Crop Yields

Deliro Llatas and his wife Gloria Lizana Quispe live with their three children in the Amazonas region. They have been producing cacao for nine years and found that by selling the cash crop  they could afford to pay for their children’s health care and education. They joined the Noradino cooperative three years ago to expand their production and get better prices for their crop. Deliro also took part in the co-op’s capacity building program and learned to new skills for maintenance, pruning, and planting. The co-op has a special agricultural technician, Alonso Jimenes, who has helped Deliro, Elber, and other farmers address their biggest production risks, such as crop disease or sun damage. From growing and harvesting, to production and sales, both family farms have seen their produce and incomes improve.

Expanding Access to International Markets

After the coffee and cacao is grown, Norandino helps its members with marketing and certification. It can be difficult to break into international markets, and having organic, fair trade, specialty, or sustainable certifications is very important.

In addition to helping farmers and their families, the cooperative is involved in communities. Members make up a majority of the local population in some regions, so community impact and development is a top priority for Norandino. For example, Norandino sponsored a “responsible tourism” project in the small town of Montero. Local farmers and producers acted as guides, and the tourism income supports local social initiatives, such as a women’s weavings association and an ecological reforestation project.

This cooperative is a beautiful example of many different sectors working together to directly help families and communities.

Learn more on Norandino's partner page:


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