Legal clearance of property rights to enhance access to credit

AVA (Asociación Verde Amazónico) consists of 15 Associations and Cooperatives who represent about 6,000 cocoa and coffee producers in the San Martín region of Peru. The objective of AVA is to represent its members and provide strategic services to grassroots organisations: education and training of producers, advice on organic and sustainable production programmes, commercial advice and promotion of responsible management and the conservation of the natural resources.

Most cooperatives have constructed infrastructure on lands that has no defined property status, and cannot be used as a guarantee for loans. Local and regional governments are willing to resolve this issue whenever the cooperatives prepare the legal documents. ESFIM funds the work of (a team of) specialised lawyers who investigate the legal status of the infrastructure with the board of the cooperative. In each of the 15 member cooperatives of AVA, they compile a folder with all documents required and assists the board to start the legal clearance process.

This resulted in the description of 32 plots in eight cooperatives that had problems. Based on this analysis, in 2018, AVA started the administrative process of legalisation of the infrastructure and land in eight of these cooperatives.

In preparation for face-to-face meetings of the board with the officials that decide on property legalisation, and supported by Agriterra, AVA used the ESFIM research findings to compile a lobby document in which they explain the importance of the legalisation process and the economic benefits for the sector. The regional authorities reacted positively to this lobby, and started a process to accelerate the legalisation of the plots and infrastructure that they had supported in earlier projects. This structured process of successful, pro-active lobbying with an evidence-based policy document (FACT methodology) has been presented in different platforms (unions, municipalities, sector workshops) as an example to be replicated by other farmers’ organisations in their specific areas of advocacy.

 Conclusions

  • The FACT policy advocacy proposal, “Legal regulation of property rights in order to improve access to credit” has helped to reinforce the role of AVA.
  • The managers, members of the technical team and research company (Marka y Asociados) empowered the proposed regulation.
  • The representatives of the member organisations stated that they will contribute in the process to achieve the objectives.

 Proud of

    • The development of the research project contributed to reinforcement of the role of AVA with its member cooperatives and in turn positioned itself among and against governmental and non-governmental institutions, mainly from the San Martin Region.
    • Developed approaches to the national cacao and coffee institutes (APPCACAO and JNC).

 Lessons Learnt

    • Empower the board of directors, both in the investigation stage and in the negotiation before the decision takes place (San Martin Regional Government).
    • Initially AVA, did not take into account a possible delay in the political advocacy process and a such in achieving a political change.
    • Another lesson is that AVA neglected the consequences of delayed activities in the beginning for the follow up activities and project planning.