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November 2013

Coffee grown by women highlighted as best practice

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10572058166_fa022fd437-300x199A new report by Twin, in part funded by The Fairtrade Foundation and Equal Exchange, highlights as best practice the work we have done in producing our Grown by Women range of coffees. Fatima Ismael , General Manager of Soppexcca coffee co-operative in Nicaragua that provides coffee for Equal Exchange, was in London to help launch the Twin report Empowering Women Farmers in Agricultural Value Chains. The report analyses the results of interviews with 14 producer groups in Ghana, India, Malawi, Nicaragua, Peru and Rwanda across three commodities – coffee, cocoa and nuts.The findings show that despite women being active at all stages of agricultural production, in many cases providing the majority of the labour, women continue to face a glass ceiling when it comes to transporting crops to market and completing the sale. These tasks are almost universally done by men, who subsequently retain much of the control over household income.

Speaking at the launch event, Fatima said “Gender empowerment has been a main principle since Sopexcca was set up. During and after the war in Nicaragua there was a lot of violence against women both domestic and out of the home. The Co-operative saw that empowerment of women was a way of addressing this and helping to create a more peaceful society. Sopexcca offers credit to women and young people (both male and female) to buy their own land to grow coffee as this is a prerequisite of co-op membership. They also run health and education programmes with a strong emphasis on women. The male farmers do not feel threatened by this as they still sell all of their coffee to the co-op and they see the benefits in their homes and in their communities of the women gaining more status.”

The Fairtrade Foundation and Twin are calling on business to act on the recommendations in the report which are:

  • Develop corporate gender policies that recognise the role of women farmers and workers to progressively improve gender justice within their value chains
  • Encourage suppliers to commit to equal representation for women in membership and leadership within producer organisations
  • Ensure investments in agricultural training and resources are inclusive of women, such as extension services, agricultural inputs and technologies
  • Share business expertise and invest in income-generating initiatives targeted at women, such as the creation of micro-enterprises run by women
  • Develop differentiated products that promote women’s empowerment, connect women producers and consumers and give women producers market insights