With the borders opening up, no more MIQ and the severity of COVID reducing I am so looking forward to my annual travel to Peru to see the farmers and the family-in-law in Lima. Yes, aware of the carbon miles but they are well and truly offset with our carbon credits and, as we refer in our website, the organic plantations we support sequester some 10 times more carbon than all the emissions in the coffee supply chain.
Promoting organic agriculture with the farmers is very important. Like most of society they are in a desert of information about organics or in fact global warming and like us in NZ not as negatively affected yet as in other areas. Most of them have been organic by default and cannot really afford chemicals. They take clean drinking water and healthy soils for granted and do not know differently. With chemical and fertiliser peddlers all around them working on commission and promising better yields which is often true in the first few years whilst the soils are still healthy, farmers often get drawn into it.
The slow road of soil degradation is starting. Spills, accidents, health issues, and dumbing down of the coffee flavour are starting to happen and an ever-increasing need for more chemicals. Once the regrets kick in but the organic certification is lost it is now near impossible to go back as the soil needs time to heal, and yields drop hard for a few years without getting the organic premium.
Now they are having to compete with regular mechanised production from large producers, so more trees have to go for more space, creating erosion, hotspots and more disease. Some farmers get it, some have first-hand experience but most always have some doubt due to the relentless promotion of chemicals, even promoted by ministry-of-agriculture departments.
Here is the problem with organics, only the small farmer, consumer and society as a whole win, not big corporate stakeholders who have better access to the media and ministries, till you start to vote with your wallet. I know, a bit revolutionary and hard to explain to some of the farmers in my Spanish.
However, I am in South America after all, on a 12+ hours drive from Lima to the farms going over 4818 m with on average 3 miraculously avoided head-on-collisions with some bus or truck each way and a few beers (we nowadays go with a dedicated chauffeur)...
I'll give it a shot anyway with the cooperative's management. Keeping it light :)