Goldenberry co-op formed in northern Peru

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Goldenberry co-op formed in northern Peru

Goldenberry cooperative Aguaymanto Miamar has been formed in the northern Peruvian department of Cajamarca, with growers working on organic certification in a bid to export directly to the world's markets. aguaymanto production 2 panorama

Elmer Eugenio Acuña manages the group, which brings together 116 growers around the city of Bambamarca. He told planting of the fruit had taken off in recent times, with production of around 20 metric tons (MT) per week when the high end of the cycle starts in July-August.

He said with increased surface area dedicated to the crop, this could rise to 30MT in the near future.

"I am just a grower there in my zone but I work with small groups so that we can produce more aguaymanto [indigenous name] and offer it directly to markets, so that there aren't any intermediaries," he said.

"We are working with an organic certifier called Bio Latina, who have told us they could give organic certification to some of our growers in three months, while the others will probably gain it in 2014."

aguaymanto smallHe said there were 24 growers in the region, including his father, who were selling to the country's biggest goldenberry exporter Villa Andina. However, as these farmers are not organically certified themselves, they have been working with Acuña since 2008 to sell the fruit directly to foreign buyers.

A direct purchasing arrangement would certainly be an improvement for Acuña, who spends an arduous amount of time working and traveling in order to commercialize goldenberries from the area.

The Aguaymanto Miamar leader collects the fruit from growers around Bambamarca on Friday and Saturday, paying them based on fruit quality and size. After the fruit is left to dry, at 4pm on Sunday he gets in a truck bound for Lima with the boxes of goldenberries loaded above a cargo of cheese in the back.

The trip takes 28-30 hours and then he unpacks the fruit on arrival, with a few of hours to rest before going to the fruit market and receiving payment for the produce.

By the time this is finished, at 4pm Tuesday he goes back to Bambamarca arriving 7pm Wednesday, and from there he travels 1.25 hours by truck to his home town La Hualanga.

He said organic production was important for growers in his region, as "chemicals would be damaging to the aguaymanto".

"We are about producing organically, whether it be corn, wheat, potatoes, Oca or Olluco," he said, with the last two products referring to two local tuber varieties.

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