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This Coffee Empowers Women

Monday 8th March 2021

This Coffee Empowers Women

by Ian

That's a bold claim; but, the outstanding work of the women farmers in Peru, supported by Cafe Femenino, means that it has become a reality. This International Women's Day, we recognise their amazing achievements over the last 17 years and highlight why we all need to keep supporting their efforts. 

Kicking off on International Women’s Day, through March, April and May, all proceeds from the sale of our Cafe Femenino Peru coffee will be donated to the Cafe Femenino Foundation to purchase materials and engineering for a crop irrigation system in these remote mountainous coffee-growing communities. The irrigation work will provide water, not just for coffee growing, but for food crops to support the community during off-seasons.

Buy a Bag of our Café Femenino, Peru Coffee and help us raise £3,000 to fund an irrigation project in Lambayeque, Peru. Find it here

For the second year, we are funding infrastructure projects with the women coffee growers of Lambayeque, Peru; part of the ASPROAGRO Co-op from which we buy green coffee. In 2019 we funded three projects here in partnership with the Café Fememino Foundation.

Dark Woods has been buying coffee from Café Femenino farmers in Peru for several years now and we are proud to work with them. We work with the ASPROAGRO coffee Farmer Co-operative which, unusually in Latin America, is made up entirely of women coffee farmers. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on coffee farmers. In Peru, the medical system has been overwhelmed, impacting on the speed and efficiency at which products are brought to market, the market price and the country’s ability to transport goods. Farmers have had to rely upon emergency assistance from the Café Femenino Foundation for basic necessities and food.   

This Coffee Empowers Women

Whilst women have always been crucial to coffee production in Peru, men traditionally held economic power. In 2003, 464 female coffee farmers in Peru united to change this and take a step toward empowerment. They decided to separate their coffee production from the men to obtain visibility and better financial reward for their labour, and a voice inside their community.

Working in partnership with OPTCO in the USA, they developed a market for women-produced coffee to serve as an important vehicle for social change and the empowerment of impoverished, marginalised women coffee farmers. Since then, the Café Femenino movement now includes thousands of women farmers from nine countries across the world.

Coffee roasters, like Dark Woods, who buy from Café Femenino farmers pay above-market prices for the coffee as well as an additional premium for each kilo of coffee bought. This premium goes, as a donation, to the Café Femenino Foundation, a charity that provides practical and educational support directly to the communities in which the women coffee farmers live.

The real value of Café Femenino and the women-led farmer cooperatives on the ground is summed up perfectly by Sabina, a coffee farmer and member of the CECANOR Cooperative:

“We have used the money we’ve received from the Café Femenino premium to invest in improving our homes, providing education for our daughters, and improving the food that we feed our families. Café Femenino has been wonderful in improving the self-esteem and empowerment of the women in our community.” – Sabina, Cecanor, Peru

In 2019/20, in addition to our coffee purchase premiums, Dark Woods also directly funded three community projects through the Café Femenino Foundation in Peru:

2 x Water Reservoir Construction – in the communities of Pampa Hermosa and Naranjo (Kanaris)
This community lives in extreme poverty and needed assistance to improve the productivity of crops and pastures. Water was scarce and water management difficult. Climate change has seriously affected the cultivation of both coffee and food, rainfall has been reduced to only four months per year. Our funding enabled the community to construct small reservoirs allow them to store their water and install an irrigation system, creating enough water for the coffee as well as ensuring water for production of vegetables and quinoa and kiwicha.

Construction of Wet Mill Tank Modules – Machucara community-Hierba Buena-Santa Rose-Espinal (Kanaris)
In recent years, these farms have been seriously affected by yellow rust, making it difficult to meet industry quality standards. This project supported these coffee farmers by implementing a wet mill infrastructure consisting of coated fermentation tank and cement patios to help maintain the quality of the coffee and sustain their niche in the specialty coffee market. The funds were managed as a loan – to begin, 5 farmers applied for funds and as the funds were repaid, they were made available to other women coffee farmers.

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