Mama Sierra is a group of women coffee farmers from the community of Giraldo, originally led by Yessica Parra, a young and ambitious sourcing professional at The Coffee Quest Colombia. This project aims at empowering Colombian women in coffee production and business management. Currently, Sirley Pulgarin (leader of women coffee producers and cuppper at The Coffee Quest Colombia) and Marco Marin (project manager of The Coffee Quest Colombia) are contributing to the development of the project.
“As a woman working in the coffee industry, we want to prove that the coffee quality from female producers has the same high value of men’s, but the main challenge is to make them believe in themselves, due to the ‘machista’ Colombian culture” – Yessica Parra
The Coffee Quest decided to set up a program to introduce the members to different fields: Empowerment & Leadership, Production & Process Improvement, and Business Management. The project started in March 2022 with the first training sessions with a psychologist. It gathered high interest and enthusiasm among all participants. The 15 members are motivated and excited to attend new training and workshop sessions.
Yessica is the cupping leader of our regional stations in South Colombia and has been responsible for purchases in the region of Antioquia. Since her start at The Coffee Quest, she has expanded our hearts and helped us reach out to more producers. When The Coffee Quest Colombia discussed the topic of Gender and Social Equality through coffee, Yessica suggested working with the women producers in her area, with whom she has built a strong bond over the years.
“Behind every coffee farmer, there is always a woman, whether she is his wife, his sister, or his mother, who supports him in planting, harvesting, selecting the cherries or managing farm’s responsibilities. Mujeres de Giraldo is exactly a homage to value women’s work” – Yessica Parra
By advocating women’s self-determination in rural areas, Yessica and Sirley can see a change in Colombian culture. In coffee production, women play a central, but often “invisible” role in coffee production. However, despite their importance, women generally have limited access to information, training, resources, and incentives. These limitations are barriers to women’s economic empowerment, and even to the success and profitability of the family farm.
Mujeres de Giraldo includes mostly Castillo and Caturra varieties, these coffee trees grow at an altitude range between 1900-2200 m.a.s.l. The coffee is produced by women, who come from the towns surrounding Giraldo in Antioquia. The process of this coffee is washed and wet fermented. The motivation behind this coffee is remarkable.
Giraldo is a small town, where the level of mistrust between sellers and producers is quite high. After 1 year of running the program, we have already seen some interesting results. The 15 women have taken action and are already transforming their roles and the way they are perceived in their community. Moreover, now, they are entirely responsible for their farms and the management of their profits. The quality of the coffee has also increased, thanks to the training sessions with The Coffee Quest Team in Colombia.
Mujeres de Giraldo, spearheaded by Yessica and Sirley, aims to organize our female producing partners into an association, with the aim of growing self-determination through coffee, and education. Thanks to the workshops, we’ve identified and determined the needs of the group, and tailored the training to achieve their goals. We want to enable female farmers to become the agents of change in their societies. Our training opportunities we are offering are in the fields of:
- Empowerment & Leadership to raise awareness about the current condition of women, to identify their basic and secondary needs and to develop strategies to reach them;
- Coffee production to improve quality, yield and income;
- Business administration to enable women to build, grow and lead sustainable enterprises.
The Coffee Quest identified some struggles the group faced and started working with the locals to improve their living conditions in several ways. One of them is the installation of two new water treatment systems, which will improve the health of all residents living in the area of Giraldo (La Sierrita and La Sierra).
Although the community is surrounded by abundant water, none of it is treated. In previous years, there have been cases of members of the community sickened by untreated water, primarily affecting children. Therefore, Marco Marín, our project manager from Colombia, decided to put the plan in action. The project has been partially funded, but there’s still a lot to do. Marco and his team are working hard to find supporters across Colombia and Europe. Join the revolution!
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