In Colombia, women are taking an increasingly important role in an industry traditionally led by men. Farmer María Esperanza Fajardo is helping the effort to promote women in coffee farming across the country.
– “I grew up in a family that always respected women, so empowering female farmers was a big motivation for me when I entered the coffee industry,” says María Esperanza Fajardo.
Fajardo's farm lies in the lush Colombian province of Valle del Cauca. She inherited cropland from her parents, who instilled in her a sense of empowerment. After working as an industrial designer in Bogotá for 20 years, she returned home to become a farmer like her father.
Yara first approached her farm in 2018 to offer advice on soil health and a more sustainable use of crop nutrition solutions, María was intrigued.
– “Preserving the biodiversity in my local community has always been important to me”, says María.
“Yara advises our community on nature-positive practices that are more sustainable and take better care of the soil. When I found that they also promote women, I had a partner in two of my strongest passions.”
– “Yara is inspiring women to make an environmental plan to positively impact the crops and soil, and to use fertilizers and water in the most sustainable way. We see how the farm operation affects not only productivity and crop quality, but also soil health and the environment,” says María.
María was the first woman to raise the female voice on the departmental board of the Colombian National Coffee Federation Congress in 2018. Together with four other women, she started the first association of coffee growers in Valle del Cauca, called Sello Mujer. The association is supported by Yara and is also part of a global network of specialty coffee professionals.
– “The recognition by Yara has opened doors. From one day to the next, Sello Mujer was invited to national and global economic events, and suddenly our voice was being heard,” she says.
The women's edition of the Yara Champion Program - Coffee is one of the world's most important coffee programs. The program includes mentorship and offers agronomic knowledge to improve the coffee quality using Yara solutions and e-learning platforms.
Members of the program are encouraged to participate in a contest where female coffee growers compete for the best coffee according to the Coffee Quality Institute methodologies. The aim is to boost recognition and visibility for women's work in an industry typically led by men, and to recognize the real value of the premium coffee they produce.
– “Yara gives female coffee producers visibility,” says María “They help professionalize our farming business through better practices, marketing, and exposure in national and international campaigns. We have received increased recognition for the coffee we are producing – and that translates to a higher selling price.”
The Yara Champion Program - Coffee is one of many initiatives that support Yara’s ambition of Growing a Nature-Positive Food-Future, by making global coffee production more efficient and more sustainable, while growing prosperity for farmers – especially marginalized ones like women.
Yara agronomists Ana Maria Ramirez and Luisa Maria Buenaventura work with farmers in the coffee region of Valle de Cauca. They explain that the program has allowed Yara to build trust and confidence with female coffee growers.
– “Our goal is to encourage women to believe in their labor and give them the visibility they deserve,” says Ramirez. “We want to strengthen their capabilities to grow in the most sustainable and efficient way, positively impacting nature, while enhancing their crops.”
“Yara sees us and gives us recognition,” says María. “This warmth stays with us and inspires us. It feels as though Yara has given our community a hug.”
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