The Association of Agrarian Cooperatives of Cuzco- Central de Cooperativas Agrarias de Cuzco (COCLA) is a "second-level" processing and marketing organization serving 7,000 small-scale family farmers organized into 23 primary cooperatives spanning the Cuzco department of southern Peru. A registered Fair Trade rural producer organization, COCLA bulks, processes, markets, and exports "sustainable" coffee to the United States and Europe.
COCLA offers milling and marketing to their 7,000 plus members. In addition, COCLA members benefit from other services such as selling tools and agriculture inputs at discounted prices through hardware stores managed by each member cooperative while providing credit for these purchases until members receive payments for their exports. COCLA maintains a well-qualified staff of agronomists to help increase coffee yields, improve quality, diversify crops that are grown, and promote organic growing techniques.
Inhabiting the upper jungles of the eastern slopes of the Tropical Andes, COCLA's members are largely highland Andean Indians (20% women) who still speak the ancient tongue of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. The average COCLA farming family owns about five acres of land on which they grow coffee, raise chickens, and cultivate cocoa, soybeans, shade trees (e.g., leguminous, banana, pacae), and basic grains.
With a third of its production certified as organic, COCLA has become one of the largest exporters of organic coffee in Peru. It has achieved this in spite of extreme weather conditions created by the high Andes that frequently cause storms, avalanches, landslides, and floods that wreak periodic havoc on local communities. Through access to niche export markets (fair trade, organic, gourmet, shade-grown), COCLA enables peasant farmers, who get little to no help from the Peruvian government, not only to recover from natural disasters and fight poverty, but also to build roads and houses, while investing in basic services like education, potable water, and health clinics.