Chirinos is a co-operative of smallholder coffee farmers in Cajamarca, North Peru. In 1968, 36 smallholder farmers joined together to form this co-operative and today they boast over 807 members, 30% women, from several communities in Cajamarca region. The average coffee producer farms an area less than 5 hectares, so being part of a co-operative enables them to sell their coffee.
This co-operative produces coffee under completely organic conditions and has been part of innovation in this area; namely a highly organised thoroughly researched organic composting system. This is comprised of nitrogen-rich manure produced from guinea pigs, mixed with composted coffee cherry, cow manure and honey water from coffee processing. This is mixed with EM (Extra-ordinary Microorganism) to increase rate of decomposition. This organic compost facility is the powerhouse for successful organic crop production and is critical to ensure that farmers produce sustainable yields and continue to maintain soil in peak condition.
Chirinos is an excellent example of how successful co-operatives can change the lives of coffee farmers.