Support for Women Coffee Farmers

Women represent a good majority of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers and are the backbone of most coffee-growing communities.

Rich Watanabe
January 26, 2014

Women represent a good majority of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers and are the backbone of most coffee-growing communities. Coffee farming done well can be a source of wealth creation for women coffee farmers.

Conversely, without training and adoption of modern, professional practices, coffee farming can be a low-income pursuit and environmentally unsustainable. In many countries, extension services have been closed or underfunded. As a result, women coffee farmers often lack access to the knowledge, technologies and finance to implement good agricultural practices.

In the case of some African countries, women’s participation into coffee farming came as a result of civil war and genocide, where entire villages of men were annihilated.

In the Philippines’ Cordillera region, the challenges women face in coffee farming are abundant and in some ways - a question of tradition. For most people in that community, work and other daily activities are generally carried out along fixed gender lines.

Also, women are inclined to stay in the coffee farm community to take care of children and the elders, while men leave more readily to pursue their work.

Picking coffee cherries is a delicate and important process. The fickle coffee cherries ripen at different times, and being able to pick the maroon cherries without disturbing the green ones is delicate work more suited to women’s delicate hands.

For these women, the traditional demands of coffee farming are only one aspect of their lives. The long hours in the farm can be very taxing and tiring for women farmers who have more work ahead of them at home where they have families to care for, often without adequate healthcare or childcare, and limited access to education.

Unfortunately, most coffee farmers, including women, typically live and work in substandard conditions, which are compounded by the fact that other traders pay them only a small percentage of the actual profits from the coffee sold to the customer.

Coffee Heritage Project’s passion and dedication for quality-focused coffee highlights the protection of women’s rights, and improve women coffee farmers’ status as vital leaders in the coffee industry. And part of bolstering the livelihoods of individuals throughout the coffee industry is getting to know the stories of those individuals who fuel the production of coffee, and identifying how we can help their good work.

Coffee Heritage Project actively works with women’s organizations, and has continually conducted workshops to women coffee farmers where we educate and share our knowledge in improving coffee quality and farming practices. Advancing practices and education at the source is a starting point, but as these products move along the supply chain, their story often gets lost along the way.

By keeping their story in public eye, women coffee farmers receive greater support from the coffee consumers’ community, and ideally - receive a return on their hard work.

Coffee Heritage Project proudly supports coffee harvested by women.

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