Cafe Imports’ first lots from Cooperativa RAOS (Regional de Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra) came in 2015, and over the next few years Cafe Imports has been thrilled to see both the quality and the quantity of these coffees improve: The 2016/2017 harvest saw Cafe Imports’ first opportunity to source a Women Coffee Producer lot from this group whose 270-farmer membership includes 77 women. Now Cafe Imports is able to buy several containers from the women as well as the mixed group.
One of the reasons the cooperative is determined to market its women members’ coffee is that 60 percent of the women face gender-based legal issues with regards to the ownership of their land, as well as limitations to the credit they can receive to finance the harvest every year. In addition to the program premiums these women receive for this lot, Cooperativa RAOS has many very active educational support programs open to all members. Gender assemblies are held by female members in order to discuss the women’s needs, as well as ways of increasing equity within the group and community.
“Gender equity means that women and men have the right to equal and fair access to the use, control, and benefits from the same goods and services of society, as well as to decision-making in the areas of social, economic, and social life, as well as politics.” This is Cooperativa RAOS’s mission statement with regards to gender, a philosophy that the organization supports through the development of training farms, as well as integrated farm-management programs, and in increasing access to these programs as well as organic-farming support to all members, including the female growers.