Peru counts with a strong advocacy platform, called CONVEAGRO, a influential alliance of farmer organisations and research institutes for advocacy. Most of these farmer organisations do not have collective marketing services, but some do. This subgroup of economic organisations wants to increase the depth and content of specific advocacy issues related with this identity of being an economic organisation. During the national workshop a number of economic organisations of different departments and commodity sectors, led by the Junta Nacional de Café, identified three priority areas were research support is needed: Government procurement procedures; Quality requirements and internal control systems and Collective marketing management challenges.
ESFIM-Peru Policy Issues
In Peru, ESFIM works through the Junta Nacional de Café in the strengthening of a platform of economic farmer organizations. This platform exists as an informal group, and in November 2010 JNC managed to become elected within the board of the major Peruvian agricultural policy think-tank CONVEAGRO. The five issues prioritised as ESFIM themes during the ESFIM meeting with the NFO Junta Nacional de Café (JNC) and the broader associative platform of farmers organisations were taken to a large extent by the new board of CONVEAGRO, who changed leadership and presidency in December 2010.
The issues include:
- Cooperative Law and VAT on internal transaction
- Government procurement procedures;
- Quality requirements and internal control systems
- Organisational intelligence on collective marketing arrangements
- Improvement of the PCC grant fund for competitiveness
Taxation in cooperatives
A major advocacy issue, on which JNC had been working the last two years, relates to the Cooperative Law, opposing the new interpretation for the fiscal authorities to tax internal transaction between members and organisation. The cooperative sector, both the cooperative banks and the coffee cooperatives would be severely affected by this taxation. Some of the coffee cooperatives faced charges and threaten to bankruptcy for not paying these taxes. After years of lobby to the parliament, in May 2011, the Peruvian parliament restated the intention of the law to exonerate VAT on these internal transactions (Decreto Legislativo Ley 29683). Legal and evidence-based support in this strategy has been given by specialized lawyers contracted by JNC with other funding. This advocacy started before ESFIM entered stage but has been discussed with the other sectors within the context of ESFIM-project. But, in August 2011, unexpectedly and without notice, as one of his first policy intensions, he backfired the tax regulation that the sector (led by JNC) had managed to retain in May. Advocacy efforts have been intensified, e.g. through an emergency session on 22 August inside the Congress and a march to the Congress on 23 November 2011. The latter was successful, and the Government formally withdrew the new interpretation of the tax issue form the agenda of the Congress. A historic victory for the cooperative sector!
The second advocacy issue is a critical reflection on the government procurement policies. Peru has an extensive legal framework to target government procurement to small farmers. The most prominent programme is PRONAA that procures for nutritional programmes and has the explicit task according to the law (Ley Nº 27060 and Decreto Supremo Nº 005-2008-MIMDES) to procure from local small farmers however, in practice this does not happen. To analyse the constraints, but also the legal obligations of government, a sequence of workshops have been organized with members and legal specialists in 2010 and an ESFIM Policy Brief on the subject has been edited (see http://www.esfim.org/collaborative-research/peru/documents/?lang=es). To further feed the advocacy agenda on government procurement policies, four case-studies had been commissioned of successful experiences where organized producers managed to provide government procurement programmes. These include: Asociación Civil de Productores Agropecuarios El Progreso, Churucana, Cajabamba, and Agro Servicios y Producción de Alimentos San Juan de Pisco SRL. Provincia de Huaraz .
Seedling quality certification
As for the third theme, on quality, identified, during 2010, JNC developed a quality assurance system for coffee nurseries and developed a manual on standards and certified coffee plants . In July 2011, 17 producers, technicians and workers received an official certification that supports their ability to perform their work well coffee seedlings production, an activity that is the first step to achieve adequate productivity in coffee plantations. The growers, were evaluated by the National Coffee Board (JNC) and Environmental Management for Agriculture (GEMA), entities which are authorized by the Peruvian Institute of Evaluation, Accreditation and Certification of Quality (IPEBA). Through practical assessments, these seedling producers demonstrated their competences. This consolidates a process that began in February last year as a pilot program, supported by ESFIM, through which the JNC and IPEBA joined efforts to certify the skills of the producers of coffee seedlings.
Concerning the fourth theme of collective marketing, AGRINATURA will synthesize the organisational trajectory of the cotton organisation COSTACH in Piura, as a promising model for strengthening an associative sector, engaging in collective processing and the development of specific quality parameters to gain a niche market for Piura cotton. Also, an open call for “good practice case-studies of collective marketing” has been launched as a national concourse with premiums for the most interesting case-studies. The framework for this has been developed in comparative research (“incentive structures in collective marketing”).
PCC Grants for Competititiveness
On the fifth issue, prioritized in 2010 in the advocacy plan, there has been significant improvements. The PCC grant fund changed its requirement that was most disturbing for the associative sector (no individual member could have a pending payment with the agricultural bank). This change made most associations and cooperative eligible. The first round of grants resulted in several associations related to the platform, being selected for a supporting. proved promising for an PCC that could be helpful for development of the associative sector.
Overall, the specific ESFIM activities are well embedded in the on-going advocacy initiatives of JNC and the larger platform CONVEAGRO. CONVEAGRO has a weekly meeting (Tuesday) to monitor agricultural policies and discuss advocacy strategies. In these meetings, farmer leaders and NGOs discuss the current political situation and prepare communications. CONVEAGRO has support staff from the NGO CEPES, especially for coordination and process issues. Farmer organisations, however, claim that the prioritized issues are somewhat donor-driven and that ESFIM provided a needed and complementary source of support to change these priorities. To improve advocacy efforts, consultants and NGOs elaborate background documents. The history of CONVEAGRO and the role of JNC in it has been systemized by the AGRINATURA researcher with the coordinator of JNC, through a series of recorded interviews. End 2011, a ESFIM brief is being developed based on this, to document a successful advocacy experience for the wider ESFIM network.
In March, CONVEAGRO organized, with ESFIM co-funding, a dialogue with all presidential candidates. It presented a ten points advocacy agenda “priorities in agriculture”, with several issues directly related to the support of famers and farmer organisation in markets. The intention was to force all candidates to publicly endorse all (or parts) of the lobby agenda of CONVEAGRO. The election of Humala in the presidential elections promised to be conducive. An important person in CONVEAGRO became vice-minister and in a good position to push the CONVEAGRO agenda further. However, it has translated in some organisational frictions within and around the CONVEAGRO board that have to be resolved in the coming months.