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LATIN AMERICA – WCCN supports efforts to fight the coffee leaf rust epidemic in Peru

MADISON, WI, US – WCCN lent $100,000 to Mountain Coffee to support the coffee-producing association’s response to the leaf rust epidemic that took over Central America this year.

The loan will help Mountain Coffee educate its members in Peru’s central jungle on best practices to prevent and fight coffee rust. It also will help replace plants susceptible to the fungus with resistant varieties.

WCCN hopes to replicate this type of financing with other institutions in the region to respond to the epidemic and to help small farmers take measures to prevent coffee-tree loss.

Coffee production’s critical role in their livelihoods underscores this initiative’s importance. Faced with falling prices, farmers have less and less incentive to invest in their parcels, which ultimately hurts them in the long-run as their trees weaken and become more susceptible to pests.

Established in 2001, Mountain Coffee serves almost 600 indigenous members by providing commercialization, technical assistance, pre-harvest credit and education services. Each member owns approximately 6 hectares and produces certified Fair Trade coffee for export to the United States and Europe.

WCCN has been working with Mountain Coffee since May 2012, providing working capital for the harvest season. Mountain Coffee uses WCCN’s funds to pay producers for their coffee at the time of delivery to the association.

Without working capital provided by institutions like WCCN, producers would have to wait at least two months for payment for their crop.

About WCCN

Founded in 1984, Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) is a nonprofit organization that empowers low-income Latin American entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers through access to microcredit and fair trade markets by sustaining partnerships with Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and Farming Cooperatives in Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru.

By Andrea Ramirez, WCCN Loan Fund Manager

Published in WCCN’s Newsletter, Fall 2013, Volume 29, No. 3