Female coffee producers often face many more challenges in farming than their male counterparts, due to limited access to resources such as training and business networks, additional domestic labour, the hazards of discrimination and even violence. Worldwide, women coffee producers make up on average around 20% of all landowners, but do 70% of the harvest-related work. According to a paper published by the Specialty Coffee Association, women encounter what is referred to as a ‘double burden’ in agricultural work – they work much longer days than men, as they are expected to perform labour on the farm as well as home and childcare activities, but receive disproportionately low remuneration. This bind leaves them very little opportunity for economic advancement, and as such, their earning power and rights as farmers and community leaders has improved very little over the past decades.
While we’ve always sought to partner with female coffee producers, and have frequently featured many incredible coffees grown by women around the world (at time of writing we have Maria Ramirez and Estela Domingo], we haven’t set any specific targets around this participation – until now. Starting in 2021, Caravan has committed to purchasing one third of all our coffee from female coffee producers, as part of what we’re calling our Female Producer Program. In addition to our volume commitment, we are setting aside an additional premium of 10p per kilo as a way to offset a portion of the increased costs that women face as coffee farmers. This money will be given directly to the producers themselves, to use however they see fit, as a way to encourage women to continue participating in coffee production.
Why one third and not one half, you may ask? Not only is it comparatively harder to source coffee from female producers, we also take very seriously our existing commitments to suppliers of all genders – and will continue to support those relationships which have been at the core of our sourcing network for years. In fact, where possible, we are working with our current partners, such as the Risaralda community in Colombia, to elevate the work of their female members as part of the work we already do there. In the coming year we’ll be speaking with our partners at origin and throughout our supply chain to find ways to address the gender gap, including interviews with female producers, special edition lots, and opportunities for our customers to get involved through fundraising projects and even trips to visit origin.
Work on our new initiative, one of the most ambitious in the UK, has already started, with coffees from our female partners arriving throughout the month of December, just in time to kick off the New Year with a bang! 2021 promises to be the most ambitious year we’ve ever had at Caravan, with our aspirational work in sourcing helping develop an industry-leading coffee offer which will showcase just how amazing the work of our partners truly is. Stay tuned for more updates, and feel free to get in touch with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org