Sustainability at 3fe: Week 8

21 February 2019
Sustainability at 3fe: Week 8

As we mentioned back in Week 3, a big part of our plans for sustainability this year involve getting across more information about the coffees that we buy and how we buy them. It's important that our customers are able to see where we're doing well, and where there are things to improve on. We also want to use our platform to communicate some of the broader issues facing the industry, and take action wherever possible to support people and organisations that are working at a much broader level, and hopefully help to create far greater change than we could on our own.

You may remember Juana & Julio Gonzales from last year; they are part of the Sol de Mañana project run by our Bolivian exporters Agricafe to give farmers in Bolivia the knowledge and tools to produce higher yields and better quality coffee. They have been working with Agricafe for a long time, but only recently joined this programme. We have found out much more about them this year through our coffee buyer Steve's visits, and they have a pretty interesting set up that we're delighted to be showcasing.

Juana & Julio jointly own their main farm, and share in the decision-making. On top of that, Juana owns a smaller farm in her own name, where she is entirely responsible for the decisions made. It turns out that it was Juana pushing to join the Sol de Mañana programme, and when Julio was sceptical, she started the programme with her own farm before he saw the benefits and agreed to join too. It's a pretty clear example of the benefits of an equitable farming unit, and we have Juana to thank for the two tasty coffees (one from each farm) that we have from them!

Gender equity in the coffee industry is key to ensuring human rights for everyone in the supply chain, as well as creating a vibrant, healthy industry for the future. We wanted to take this opportunity to support an organisation that is working to create broad, positive change around gender equity in the industry - the Partnership for Gender Equity.

The case of Julio & Juana is not that common in coffee farming; it's often the case that women typically do the majority of the work that directly impacts quality and yields while men control transporting and selling. Despite the importance of plant care, harvesting, processing and sorting to a better, more quality-centric coffee-growing business, women are often excluded from decision-making processes. Furthermore, they have less access than their male counterparts to vital resources, including adequate remuneration, land, credit, agricultural inputs, training, information and leadership opportunities. In Latin America, women own less than 20% of the arable land, which has a massive knock-on effect on all other other access issues.

The Partnership for Gender Equity (PGE) is an organisation that is creating common tools and methodologies to support the coffee industry’s engagement and investment in gender equity across the value chain. These tools will serve to improve the livelihoods of producers and enhance the sustainable supply of quality coffee. Their approach comprises scientific research, which then moves into strategic pilot projects and tool creation for use by various actors in the coffee value chain, whether it's producers, buyers or external actors like academic or development organisations. We feel that organisations like PGE will be crucial to creating a framework for improving our collective actions in this industry.

We're going to be donating 50 cents from each retail bag sold to PGE, to help them develop the research and tools that will have long-lasting effects for the future of our industry. The bags will be online and in shops from tomorrow. If you’d like to know more PGE, you can visit their site here!