Marino Guevara Alejandria is a coffee producer from the village of San Antonio in Huabal. Marino has two hectares of land, of which 1.5 is planted with caturra and the rest catimor. The farm is situated close to the village centre at an altitude of around 1800masl. Marino does a lot of the picking himself, but also hires pickers for the peak weeks of the harvest, he processes his coffee at his house where he has a small hand pulping machine and fermentation tank. Like most producers in Peru, Marino doesn’t have any drying infrastructure, so dries all his coffee on tarpaulin lined patios. This lot is just the pickings from his parcel of land that has caturra, and showcases the potential for quality coffee in this area of Peru.
San Antonio is an area that is typical of much of the coffee growing areas of Huabal, it has huge potential, but very little investment, declining production and increase in promotion of catimor. Whilst most of the coffee grown here is still pure arabica varieties such as caturra, typica and bourbon, if the problem of poor farm management and low prices isn’t addressed more producers will turn to catimor varieties in order to protect themselves from coffee leaf rust and boost their production temporarily. This would be a great shame, not only because the quality of the coffee from this area would fall, but also because this approach only masks a bigger problem and doesn’t provide a long-term solution to the problems that the coffee producers face. Low production and leaf rust are symptoms of a lack of investment and poor farm management, due to low prices and a lack of support and farmer training, it’s not the shortcoming of a coffee variety and catimor is not the silver bullet. With the field team we have in place in Jaen, we hope to provide all our producer partners with the resources and training to improve the quality of their coffee and their production.