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Small farms, big businesses

Finished project: Peru and Bolivia

Ingenuity, innovative equipment and eco-friendly farming techniques helped Peruvian and Bolivian coffee farmers, particularly women and young people, to thrive. Funded by the EU, the “Café Correcto” project demonstrated that smallholder farmers could grow sustainable coffee as they improved their living conditions and livelihoods.

Project overview

Title: Café Correcto (Right Coffee)

Dates: 2015-2019

Location: Peru and Bolivia

Our role: We were part of a consortium lead by ProgettoMondo integrated by the National Coffee Board of Peru (JNC), the Federation of Bolivian Coffee Growers and Exporters (FECAFEB), the FORTALECER Savings and Credit Cooperative of Peru, the Institute for the Promotion of Solidarity Development (INPET), and the Coordinating Office for the Integration of Peasant, Indigenous and Native Economic Organisations of Bolivia (CIOEC-BOLIVIA).

Participants: 3000 farmers in the coffee value chain, 800 rural families and 300 leaders of coffee organisations and cooperatives in Peru and Bolivia.

Project Budget: £1.2 million

Aim: Farming that works

Lead Donor: European Union

“The change that has taken place in this community is in production and reforestation. We farmers have made this barren area in a forest, we have made it beautiful, and we are conserving it.”

Genaro Alarcón, small coffee and wood producer in Santa Fe.


The Cafe Correcto project focuses on creating a fairer economy for the coffee farming families in Peru and Bolivia.

Coffee is one of the most vulnerable crops to climate change, as its production and quality rely on rainfall and temperature. Therefore, its continuity is linked to the adaptation actions we can deploy without further delay.

In recent years, coffee farmers face several challenges around maintaining the quality and volume of their coffee harvests. Pests and diseases, deforestation, soil degradation, drylands and climate change are causing big losses. Moreover, coffee is one of the agricultural subsectors most vulnerable to climate change since production and quality are affected by rainfall and temperature variability, and if the world is to continue enjoying its favourite hot beverage, we need to explore adaptation actions without further delay.

Still, the smallholder producers face enormous challenges and live in high poverty and precariousness, with low access to public services and social security coverage. Moreover, the lack of access to technologies, innovation on farming methods and markets plays a crucial role in setting them drastically back to achieve decent living conditions, a stable livelihood, and the growth of their businesses.

Our approach

Aiming to reduce rural poverty in coffee production areas of Peru and Bolivia, Practical Action worked with farmers communities and associations, development agencies, local authorities and the Governments in a coordinated strategy for just and sustainable livelihoods through coffee.

The “Café Correcto” project, funded by the European Union, contributed to this process through agroforestry techniques that added value and productivity to the coffee, diversified the crops and nourished the land; promoted the diversification of income activities, such as apiculture and circular economy goods; shared knowledge with cooperatives to support their collective bargaining power with coffee buyers; strengthened coffee organisational platforms for advocacy aimed at improving labour formalisation regulations, access to health services and insurance.

In addition, we worked with farmers, their adult children, and other young people to encourage farming and knowledge transfer continuity and innovation with youth-led initiatives. With the regional and national governments, we worked closely to incorporate these approaches into policies and budgets that addressed the coffee chain, rural labour, insurance and social security models, and new forms of access to public services.

Bringing together local knowledge and the power of partnerships, we contributed to increasing employment and wellbeing for coffee workers. 

Our goals

  • Drafting a future for coffee farmers that is just, sustainable and profitable based on the power of associativity and public policies suitable for their needs.
  • Developing reforestations models as a long-term savings alternative for producers.
  • Promoting youth participation and generational change in the organisations.
  • Diversifying through green businesses the coffee farming families’ income sources, reducing their vulnerability by not being dependent on one crop.
  • Creating a long-lasting effect with community leaders disseminating knowledge and scaling the technologies in a farmer-to-farmer methodology.
  • Achievements

    In four years, the project shared knowledge and created alliances within the farmers, value chain workers, local and national authorities for an improved production firmly based on supporting better living conditions of the farmers, a resilient livelihood and environmental sustainability. The project supported the creation and growth of cooperatives, promoters and leaders, for long-lasting outcomes.


    More sustainable and climate-friendly income sources for farmers


    • 380 young coffee growers in the areas of Junín, Puno and Cajamarca have received technical training with official certification in topics associated with coffee growing and agroforestry, such as beekeeping, guinea pig breeding, farm certification and extension work in the rehabilitation and renovation of coffee plantations.
    • State of the art study of agroforestry and forestry experiences, and economic and financial analysis of 18 cooperatives (coffee members and savings and credit cooperatives) in the three intervention zones to develop a Savings and Welfare Programme for Forest and Coffee workers of national scope.
    • 104 coffee leaders with strengthened organisation skills and employment formalisation capacities.
    • With the participation of youth and women’s committees, the cooperatives drafted 40 proposals and business plans for innovative associative enterprises.


    • 589 farmers have received technical training in forestry including nursery management, land preparation and financial tools.
    • 123 hectares have been reforested with timber species to benefit 164 coffee growers from 6 organizations. More than 70% were established in pure forest plantations in areas not suitable for coffee cultivation, 20% under agroforestry systems including coffee and fruits, and the remaining 10% were planted on boundaries, roadsides and around water sources.
    • 222 young coffee growers were training in innovative associative business plans, achieving 10 new entrepreneurships in topics such as: roast coffee, coffee husk’ flour and tea, organic fertilizer production, coffee and forestry seedlings, agroecological tourism, beekeeping and coffee bartending.

    Recognition of occupational profiles for better opportunities


    • With the National Coffee Board (JNC) and the National System of Evaluation, Accreditation and Certification of Educational Quality (SINEACE), we achieved the evaluation and certification of competencies for the occupational profiles of internal inspectors and producers of coffee seedlings and associated species in the areas of Junín, Puno and Cajamarca.
    • Standardisation of sustainable coffee growing and agroforestry occupations to improve the coffee sector’s value chain.


    • 221 producers, including eight organisations, are certified as “Coffee producers” by the Plurinational System of Certification of Competencies (SPCC) according to the national technical standard of the Ministry of Education.
    • In association with coffee organizations and SPCC, we support the validation of the “Coffee cupper” technical standard and nearly 30 young people were certified.

    Improved access to health, retirement and formal working conditions.

    • Diagnosis on health, retirement and working conditions of coffee cooperatives in the areas of Jaén (Cajamarca), Pichanaki and San Juan del Oro (Junín) and Juliaca (Puno), Coroico and Caranavi (Bolivia).
    • Systematisation of labour regulations, mainly those related to access to health and social security, identification of technical, regulatory and tax barriers to labour formalisation, and implementation of social protection mechanisms in coffee production (Peru and Bolivia).
    • Systematisation of the current health systems (SIS and EsSalud) and proposal of alternatives more suitable for coffee farmers.
    • Municipal youth laws in the Caranavi region; such as youth employment law and youth and women council (Bolivia).

Sustainable Development Goals

Café Correcto contributes to progress against four of the 17 SDGs.

Café Correcto sought to reduce the proportion of farmers living in poverty by providing training and tools for agricultural productivity and market access.

The project aimed to increase the productivity and incomes of small-scale family farmers through productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition.

Farmers worked towards productivity through diversification, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and were encouraged to create associations to help them achieve greater goals.

As part of the training for farmers, Café Correcto supports new approaches to regenerative agriculture and forestation to help care for the land.
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