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Picture at SCA Seattle 2018 - Cafe Femenino Foundation with Isabel, Victor & Claudia from Peru.

The regions of Peru included in the grant activities are Cajamarca, Lambayeque, and the Amazonas. In these areas, coffee for Green Mountain is supplied by the CECANOR cooperative. The Cafe Femenino Foundation has been working with this coffee cooperative since 2005; the program is the largest and most robust to date. These women coffee producers live in small rural communities where there is very little governmental support in the areas of health and education. Due to the poor roadway system, these communities have difficulty accessing outside support. This is especially true during the rainy season. There is also a lack of electricity and telecommunication in most of the communities where the Foundation operates. The Foundation is able to leverage the infrastructure that has been created by the CECANOR cooperative to allow improved access to information, education, and social resources.

Gender inequity is a major concern in Peru. Women are often viewed as less valuable than men in their culture and the domestic abuse rate is very high in rural areas. In 2005, the World Health Organization conducted a multi-country study on domestic violence that included Peru. The findings indicate that 69% of the women located in rural areas near Cusco had experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner. Additionally, only 44% of women in the department of Cusco had at least one year of secondary education.

 

Project Activities and Outputs

Peru’s Cafe Femenino women’s groups meet once a year to create a work plan that addresses their needs and objectives. From that annual meeting, the following initiatives became the focus of the projects that were requested by the women for 2013:

1) Food Security – Food storage, quinoa, and school community gardens
2) Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment – Safe spaces and leadership workshops
3) Respiratory Health – Improved stoves
4) Income Diversification - Second Income projects

“Our Cafe Femenino Women’s Group has benefited all members of our coffee cooperative, men and women alike, despite us being dispersed throughout Northeastern Peru. We have strengthened CECANOR with our participation in technical assistance programs, trainings and certifications.”
- Sabina Hernandez, Café Femenino Coffee Producer, Agua Azul, Cajamarca

Community members have committed to volunteering all labor necessary in order to help keep costs low, as well as to take ownership and make a personal investment in these initiatives. All decisions made in regard to the beneficiaries of each project were made by the Café Femenino Women’s Groups in a democratic process that is intended to empower the women leaders of the communities and also further develop their involvement and organizational experience.

 

1. Food Security

During the times of harvest, farmers have an abundance of fruits such as oranges, bananas, pineapple, limes, lemons, and passion fruit. When the fruit comes into season there has not been a way to store it for later consumption. If not picked and consumed, fruit will quickly spoil. The prices of fruit are very low during this season but once fruit is preserved, it can be sold at a later date when market prices rise and availability is scarce. The earnings from this sale can make the project sustainable by paying for preservation costs and still having earnings left over to boost the family income.

The participants learned how to work with the existing raw materials they had at their disposal; those fruits and vegetables that already grew on their land. They were trained in simple technologies used for food storage such as canning and pickling procedures. They learned about foods that had high levels of additives and preservatives and how to avoid them in their daily diet in order to improve their overall health.

The workshops included instruction on pickling, canning, juices, and dehydration. Carrots, onions, and cucumbers were used for this first instructional workshop on pickling. The canning workshops included jams, marmalades, and plum sauce. Also included was the preserving of orange juice and dehydration of bananas to make banana chips. The representatives of the Café Femenino Foundation were able to sample these food items and are proud to report that they were delicious. During each workshop, every participant went home with 10 cans, bottles, and/or jars each of products that they conserved. Most importantly, they came away with yet another tool to be able to store food for the times when there are no fresh fruits and vegetables to consume and food is scarce.

Quinoa Cultivation & Education Project

The objective of this project is to reintroduce quinoa in the areas of coffee cultivation and to promote the incorporation of quinoa in the local diet. Through this project, organic home and school gardens were implemented with a focus on quinoa and amaranth cultivation. Workshops have been given to women members of the coffee associations of ASPAPE and ASPROAGRO from Lambayeque, ASPRO and APCU from Cajamarca, and UCAM and Gran Vilaya in the Amazonas region. Workshops included the following activities:

  • Educational workshops on the importance of nutrition and how quinoa helps to combat malnutrition.
  • Trainings to install quinoa gardens in the members’ homes. Participants learned how to use agronomic techniques for soil preparation, incorporation of decomposed manure, sowing and plant density, planting depth and methods for caring for the crop.
  • Instruction focused on food preparation and recipes that incorporate quinoa and other grains and vegetables into the regular diet.

The teachers involved in the school based gardens were very cooperative and instrumental in the joint effort to achieve their installation. The schools engaged in this project are located in the communities of Corral de Piedra and Chinama, in Lambayeque, and San Antonio, in the state of Amazonas.

School Community Gardens Integration in Isolated Areas Project

This project contributes to education and food security. By utilizing school property to plant community gardens the availability of fresh, nutritious food to children is greatly increased. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to educate more children and their families about nutrition and food sustainability combined with agricultural education.

Demonstration plots were selected as teaching examples. Those plots were located in San Antonio, Nueva York, Lonya Grande, Virgen de Fatima, Villarumi, Corral de Piedra, and El Naranjo. The schools in each of these communities had land readily available for instructional use. Each school provided a full hectare of its property to be used for instruction purposes and food production that served as a resource and model for children and families in learning about and producing nutritional vegetables.

Results: The objectives were to improve the quality of the nutritional and agricultural education for the students of in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. Through active learning and integration, children and parents benefited from cultivating these gardens.

Impact - Food Security Initiative

Since the first food security workshop was presented to women farmers in 2009, there has been a large increase of knowledge in rural areas about the topic and continued interest to explore the topic deeper. The earliest stages of these trainings included trainings on basic hand washing for food preparation. With the continued support of this initiative women are now equipped with skills to preserve their own fresh food to consume or sell during times of the year when food is scarce. Families have received training on the importance of a nutritional diet that includes daily portions of fruits and vegetables as well as the benefits of substituting quinoa and amaranth for white rice.

Overall, the participants in these projects are more aware of fresh, highly nutritious foods that they can grow themselves, thereby reducing the amount of money spent outside of the home while diversifying their diet. The ancient grain workshops have created interest, understanding and accessibility to quinoa and amaranth that once played a significant role in the culture and nutrition of previous generations. The Café Femenino Foundation has noticed this change in diet through community visits over the years. In the past, we would be served a simple soup with potato. Now we see dishes of soup filled with vegetables, a plate of salad, and quinoa with meat. The participants are learning that nutritious food is abundant on their land.

The school garden projects effectively combined an educational component with a nutritional benefit for the children. The gardens contributed to diversification of the teacher’s curriculum while incorporating horticulture to subjects such as mathematics, biology, reading, and writing.

Additionally, the community gardens were instrumental in bringing the community together, through a strong collaboration between parents, students, and teachers.

The children’s attitude towards agriculture and rural life was reported to have improved once they were integrated into growing their own school plot. It brought the responsibility to them and created a more in-depth sense of awareness for agriculture, organic production, and nutrition.

The success of food security focused projects since 2009 are shown in the data collected of malnutrition rates spanning the past 3 years. There has been a reduction in the malnutrition rates in the children living in the communities where food security workshops have taken place. The data collected in 2013 continues to support this trend, showing malnutrition rates have decreased and the incidence of malnutrition are declining.

Based off the experience of growing and cooking with quinoa through a multi-year Quinoa Cultivation project, Mercedes Uriarte Latorre, a registered nurse and board member of the Café Femenino Foundation in Peru, published a book that documents the history, biology, cultivation, nutritional value, and uses of quinoa. It includes recipes that were taught to the women members during the workshops. The book is called La Quinua: Reina de los Cereales, (Quinoa, Queen of Grains) published in December of 2012.

 

2. Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment Initiative

Community Spaces for Women

The women’s group of Peru has been making incredible strides forward. Now that the women are organized, they are attending meetings and trainings regularly. One difficulty that they faced was a lack of access to a space where they could conduct training sessions and meet to discuss their challenges, projects, and discuss future plans. This community space for women, called Casa Café Femenino [Café Femenino House], is managed by the women and serves as a place that does not have to be borrowed from the men. This provides self-determination and control over the setting.

Each Casa Café Femenino is equipped to serve as a temporary shelter for battered or abused women and children, with future plans to serve as a community soup kitchen.

Casa Cafe Femenino Nueva Alianza: In Nueva Alianza, district of Moyobamba in San Martin Region, the APCU women’s group worked in partnership with other community leaders to successfully complete the construction of this community center in December of 2013. The materials were purchased earlier in the year, but the construction took place after the completion of the coffee harvest, when people were more available to work.

This project involved 38 members of the APCU women’s group and 45 additional people from the community. 500 community members will benefit from the construction of this community center. The 250 square meters of land that this community center sits upon was donated.

Casa Cafe Femenino Tallapampa: This project is a duplicate of the Casa Café Femenino Nueva Alianza. Construction was also completed in December 2013. This community space serves 118 women members of the coffee association and 200 additional women from the community of Tallapampa and surrounding areas. The ASPAPE women’s association, made up of 32 women from Tallapampa, 46 from Murojaga, and 40 from Caracha, designed and implemented this project. The group successfully acquired donated land for the site. They will be able to use the space for meetings, trainings, temporary shelter for victims of domestic abuse, and to serve the poorest of the community through a soup kitchen program funded by the government.

Community Center Space in the Community Bank in Agua Azul: This project’s focus was to make improvements on an already existing building which struggled to adequately provide the space and needs for group meetings. Funds were used primarily for construction materials to expand the meeting area, improve the internal conditions of the building, provide electricity, and build a bathroom. Construction was completed in December 2013. This space now provides a cleaner, more adequate area for women leaders to gather, hold community bank meetings, and offer workshops for the community. It served as a meeting space for Kelly Clarkson’s visit to the cooperative in 2013, as part of her promotional trip with GMCR and Fair Trade USA. Going forward, the space will serve as a crisis shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence in the area.

 

Women Empowerment

WE CREATE LEADERSHIP & EMPOWERMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Five Women Internal Coffee Inspectors – the role of the inspector is to verify compliance with organic production standards and fair trade standards, as well as compliance with the Cecanor Statutes and the agreements of the Direct Council and the General Assembly. It is not an easy task to become an Internal Inspector – they must participate in two training workshops per year on specific issues to internal control and are required to attend all training workshops that are schedule in their communities. Inspectors must visit each producer and their farm, verifying the boundaries, the crops, the use of external products, the cleaning of the warehouse, the risks of contamination, etc., as well as, keep the necessary records on the management of the farm, shade tree management, etc. They do receive an incentive for each farm visited as well as all travel and food expenses are covered. Not all those who apply become inspectors. There are 22 Internal Inspectors, the following 5 women were approved and are now Internal Coffee Inspectors:

  • Ana María Carlos Rojas La Ramada ASPAPE- PENACHI
  • Rosa Amelia de la Cruz Carlos Kerguer ASPAPE- PENACHI
  • Luz Angelica Quispe Gonzales Virgen de Fátima GRAN VILAYA
  • Elena Gonzales Copia Virgen de Fátima GRAN VILAYA- AMAZONAS
  • Keyly Araujo de la Cruz San Antonio APCU- AMAZONAS

Peruvian Women Coffee Inspectors

 

3. Respiratory Health Initiative

Kitchen Stove Improvement Project

The family kitchens in the coffee communities are typically small rooms with no windows, no lighting, and a low ceiling. The walls and ceilings are coated with black soot from the traditional, on the ground campfire style stove that serves as a cooking surface. Because the food preparation is usually conducted by the women of the family, the incidence of respiratory illness in women of this region is high.

Children are also exposed to the smoke including the babies who are most likely to spend time in close proximity of their mothers in a cradle in the kitchen. The children are at a higher risk of burns from the open flames, as they often congregate in the kitchen so that their mothers can care for them.

The improved stoves being used by the women results in an immediate reduction in the amount of smoke exposure faced by family members.

Additionally, these projects are a good exercise in democratic decision making. The Women’s Association members have to decide who is going to be the beneficiaries of these stoves. They are required to lead the project by organizing themselves. They develop their project management skills in determining how the materials are delivered, how the project is implemented, and why it was important.

Impacts – Peru Country Program

Projects such as these benefit the whole family and create visibility for the women as they become coordinators, manage activities, and are valued for the work they do.

The projects provide a pathway for women to assume leadership positions in their homes, in local organizations, and regionally. They are seen as a set of opportunities for women to do new things -- whether entering into projects that are typically administered by men or being involved in new sources of education. There has been an increase in the amount of land women are managing over the past two years.

These projects entail supporting women in a culture that traditionally supports male interests. They require training and shifting perceptions at the household and community levels. These projects are driven by the aim to empower women to reduce the inequities they face as they advance with increased training and take on leadership roles.

Experiences from different communities can now be shared and expressed in a more formalized way with the incorporation of the legal entity known as the Women’s Association of CECANOR. Women will have a voice - at the regional level for the exchange of experiences, training, information, and decision-making in addition to the annual Cafe Femenino Planning Session.

As the women become more organized, confident and capable, they participate more in the coffee organization. There has been an increase in the amount of coffee that women are bringing to the cooperative to sell and an increase in the amount of coffee women are able to get to the market. The amount of women and the amount of qunitales have increased since 2005.

There have been several other Foundation projects that have been implemented and carried out in these coffee communities in addition to those funded by GMCR this year. For example, five Early Education Centers focusing on the academic stimulation of children five years and younger were started in 2013 with funds from other donors. These centers also have a goal of providing health information at a centralized location, training facilitators and collecting health data on the children.

 

4. Income Diversification

Beekeeping & Workshops

Here are some photos of the beekeeping projects. Click to enlarge images


A recent grant funded mainly by the Cafe Femenino Foundation for a Pressurized Irrigation System in Peru.