By Sarah Wakefield – Sustainable Sourcing & Fairtrade Manager

Today, to mark the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight, we’d like to share the story of Fairtrade coffee producer, Hugo Guerrero. Hugo (pictured above with Jo Whitfield – Chief Executive, Food) and his family live and work in Montero, Piura, in north-eastern Peru. They own 15 hectares of farmland that they use to cultivate wonderful, organic Fairtrade coffee.

Hugo and his family are members of the 7000 strong Fairtrade cooperative, Norandino, a thriving business in Peru that supports their members in many ways. They pay producers at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their produce, and provide additional training and financial support, which in part, comes from the Fairtrade Premium they receive on top of the trading price for coffee. Hugo’s father, Segundo Guerrero, is one of the founders of the cooperative.

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Hugo Guerrero (far left) with his family in Peru.

Thanks to Fairtrade, Hugo benefitted from a good education. He won a competition for a cultural exchange with MENSA after finishing university in Lima, which was a unique opportunity to learn more about agriculture, and in particular, coffee production. Hugo now brings his skills and expertise back to his family farm, as well as many of the other farmers in the area.

“Everything I learn here, I disseminate all over the province in some way. If what I do is successful, then other farmers can have access to that type of product, which they themselves could even make.” – Hugo Guerrero

This is a great example of how Fairtrade helps to empower producers and strengthen communities.

Peru faces a climate emergency, making sharing of learnings such as these all the more important. Many farmers are forced to change from the organic coffee they have been growing for hundreds of years due to changing temperatures and an increase of disease. But with the safety net that Fairtrade provides, both in the stable income and the wider benefits of being part of a cooperative, there is some hope they can remain organic and defend their crop.

“In this district, on the lower lands, the majority of farmers are changing their crop from coffee to sugar cane. Many are having problems with various pests or diseases. The same is happening in the middle lands, because there is a lack of knowledge among the farmers who are exchanging coffee for cane just the same.”

Without access to education and training, farmers are poorly equipped to find solutions to the onslaught of climate change, but Hugo himself is already improving the situation. Hugo uses areas of the family’s farm to experiment with different crops, grafting disease resistant plants with the quality Arabica that fetches a higher price at market.

“What I am doing here is trying out different varieties, with diversification and different types of soil management in order to face the climate changes we are experiencing. I have a quality testing laboratory, and the objective is to teach the young people around here that they can do the same thing on their own farms. That is the idea.”

Hugo’s story is a wonderful example of how choosing Fairtrade can help change lives, supports people and highlights our commitment to co-operate for a fairer world.

This year, we’ve been able to invite Hugo to visit us at Co-op in the UK and give him an opportunity to share his story. Help us celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight and share his story. Our producers like Hugo are at the heart of our delicious Fairtrade products, and visits like this help us celebrate Fairtrade and to spread our message – today and every day, #ChooseFairtrade.