One of the world's most exotic coffee-growing areas is the subject of a trade rescue appeal, following a disaster which has been barely reported in the world news, having been largely overshadowed by the events in Haiti.
Some forty thousand coffee farmers in Peru have been left in an extremely hazardous position following severe rains and landslides and now Peros, the UK's largest distributor of Fairtrade coffee, has put in a £10,000 donation to start trade support for these farmers.
"Farmers in this region of Peru have supplied coffee to Cafedirect for more than ten years," explain James Roberts and Peter Goodey, the co-directors of Peros. "We were lucky enough to visit the region in the summer of 2008 with Cafedirect, and saw then how lives had been rebuilt in Santa Teresa, following a devastating mud slide ten years before."
There are thought to be more than 110,000 coffee growers in Peru, most working on very small farms, and a great many of them without access to electricity and running water. Most operations are carried out by hand, even the transportation of coffee cherries to hand-pulpers and wooden fermentation tanks. It is said that Peru is one of the few places where the traditional sight of a mule laden with coffee sacks can still be seen.
However, the country has developed a reputation for some good-quality produce, and notably one of Cafedirect's most popular lines, its Macchu Picchu coffee.
At the end of January, torrential rains struck the area of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, resulting in widespread flooding and landslides. The entire Sacred Valley region has been declared a disaster zone by the Peruvian government, the ruins of Machu Picchu are closed, and 2,000 tourists have been stranded.
"Unfortunately, public and industry awareness of this disaster is currently very low so fund-raising is difficult," say Roberts and Goodey of Peros. "This is a situation Peros would like to change.
"These people need our financial help, and they need it now.
"Leander Hollings, founder of an organisation called MySmallHelp, is now helping in Cusco. We are very keen to support Leander and her team working on the ground locally. We have set up the Peros Cusco Emergency Appeal to receive donations directly. Because we know the people involved we can be confident that the money is being used wisely, going directly to those in greatest need.
"We will keep you updated from our friends in Peru who will provide updates on Peros Twitter and Facebook of progress."
By Ian Boughton