Cooperativa de Producción y Servicios Especiales de los Productores de Camélidos Andinos

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Public Statement 2016

Title Implementation of two production and alpaca innovation centers (CRIA) in Sicuani, Cusco, and Puquio, Ayacucho
Type of organization Cooperative
Country Peru
Duration  Three years 
IAF funding   Anticipated funding amount: $363,910
Obligated in FY 2016: $181,955
Counterpart committed $769,160 total: $482,775 in cash; $286,385 in kind
Number of direct &
indirect beneficiaries
Direct: 600
Indirect: 5,400
Primary program area Research/dissemination; Enterprise development

Cooperativa de Producción y Servicios Especiales de los Productores de Camélidos Andinos (COOPECAN) was established in 2008 to represent producers of alpaca and vicuña fiber in four regions of the Peruvian highlands (Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho and Cusco). Its mission is to serve its members by improving production, value added processing and marketing, ensuring the conservation of the Andean ecosystem. Its members generally live and work at altitudes of between 4,000 and 5,500 meters; many have had little education, and cannot read or write. Being a member of COOPECAN gives farmers access to markets at fair prices as well as services to help improve the quality and quantity of the wool fiber and health of their herds. 

COOPECAN’s currently has 1,900 members, which includes individuals and seven associations representing seven communities. It is governed by a general assembly of all members that meets twice a year, a board of directors, an independent fiscal committee, and education and elections committees. The board of directors and the fiscal committee meet every three months to review the quarterly progress. The general assembly issues general policies and approves financial statements, the strategic plan and the annual operational plan. The board selects a general manager who oversees the various departments: sub management, administration and finance, production, sales and projects.

In 2011, the present administration took a bold step by entering the international market with alpaca tops, the name given to fiber that has been washed, combed and carded; it sold $250,000 to the Italian market that year. In 2012, its sales grew to $1.3 million. In 2013, it took out a loan with Oikocredit to purchase its own processing equipment, which has allowed it to diversify its product lines and offer fiber processing services to third parties; its sales reached $2.2 million in 2014 and are expected to reach $2.65 in 2015. The impact of these strategies has meant that COOPECAN is able to pay a price differential to its members, who have increased their income by 35 percent.  

In the last five years, COOPECAN has received funding from SOS Faim (Belgium), Agriterra (Netherlands), and Peru Opportunity Fund (USA). 

Project Objective
To increase productivity and raise incomes among alpaca herders in the highlands of Ayacucho and Cusco.

Project Description
Cooperativa de Producción y Servicios Especiales de los Productores de Camélidos Andinos (COOPECAN) will raise living standards and incomes for approximately 600 smallholder alpaca farmers by improving their herds and increasing the quality and quantity of their wool fiber. COOPECAN will also strengthen its organization by training adult members for leadership positions and preparing youths in their communities for the eventual generational change. Project activities will be carried out in Ayacucho and Cusco and will indirectly benefit an additional 5,400 people.

Rationale for Funding
There are approximately 120,000 alpaca farmers in Peru who own about 6 million animals. Yet, two processing firms, both based in Arequipa, buy and process virtually all their fiber. If not organized, alpaca fiber producers commonly go through at least five intermediaries. This network of middlemen use cash advances, kinship relationships and other informal mechanisms to buy ungraded fleece and fiber at very low prices. The system provides low cost raw material for processing, keeping the alpaca farmers in abject poverty. By bringing together associations of alpaca producers and vicuña herders, COOPECAN will challenge the status quo and increase the power of alpaca farmers in the marketplace.

Learning Opportunity
COOPECAN has developed an inclusive production and marketing model that incorporates smallholder alpaca producers as agents of development. Will its model help move these herders above the poverty line and stay there?