Honduras: Bridging the gap for women in the coffee sector

Honduras: Bridging the gap for women in the coffee sector

12/04/2019
in News

The drop in coffee prices will affect up to 70% of Honduras’ small-scale producers, representatives of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in this Central American country warned this month. This will affect an average of 100,000 small-scale producers in Honduras—18-20% of whom are women—that will now find it more difficult to invest in fertilization and maintaining their farms, among other things.

This inevitably reduces both the coffee sector’s competitiveness in relation to other countries and its development, as coffee is the country’s main agricultural export item (25.8%). To resolve this and other challenges facing the coffee sector, at the beginning of the year Rikolto, the National Coffee Board (CONACAFE) and the organization Solidaridad Network signed an agreement to update the national coffee policy with a gender focus.

Challenge: Institutionalizing gender equality in the coffee sector

This agreement will strengthen CONACAFE to guarantee the implementation of a framework for this policy aimed at technological innovation, competitiveness, the socioeconomic transformation of coffee growing, and the institutionalization of the gender focus in the sector.

This important step was taken in the framework of the Honduran Sustainable Coffee Platform (PCSH), in which Rikolto participates as a member of the coordinating committee along with Solidaridad Network and CONACAFE.

This multiactor space was established in 2016 by the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) to work on the priority issues of sustainability and improved collaboration between the public and private sectors and national and international actors in the chain, in order to achieve sustainability.

Rikolto, the National Coffee Board (CONACAFE) and the organization Solidaridad signed an agreement to update the national coffee policy with a gender focus, that proposes achieving the following results:

  1. Institutionalization of the gender focus in the coffee sector to guarantee the reduction of existing gaps. This includes a Plan of Action that operationalizes the policy’s implementation.
  2. The establishment and functioning of an Institutional Gender Committee, responsible for following up on, monitoring and evaluating the Plan of Action.
  3. Recovering and disseminating good gender equity practices in the coffee sector.

Jacobo Paz, presidential delegate to the National Coffee Board, stated that women’s participation in national coffee growing activities is extremely important for CONACAFE in order to achieve improved quality of life for their families, community development, and the recognition of their roles on coffee farms and in board of director posts at the local, departmental and national levels.

We can be validating production and marketing models that promote benefits for the whole value chain, from producers to consumers, but if they are not raised to the level of policies formulated and implemented in a participatory way, there will always be gaps and a disconnection between the chain’s actors

Napoleón Molina coordinator of coffee projects in Honduras

Omar Palacios, the Solidaridad Network’s country manager in Honduras, said that the idea of producing the National Gender and Coffee Policy grew out of the study “Partnership for Gender Equity” conducted by the Coffee Quality Institute, which analyzed gender equity and inclusion throughout the value chain.

“The results presented in December 2018 at the Global Coffee Platform led to the Honduran coffee sector requesting support for its implementation,” he explained. “And that’s how this agreement for co-funding among CONACAFE, Solidaridad and Rikolto emerged in order to join forces to generate tangible results in the sector.”

The agreement covers a period of one year but could be extended if agreed to by the parties involved.

Organised women coffee farmers have a chance to support the process

Waleska Tabora, a coffee farmer member of the Honduras Chapter of the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA), said: " Through this gender Policy I expect that, in the future, more women will be capable of running their own farms, not relying on the title to property of the husbands, being more sustainable, more women participating, being more visible, and being empowered in their region".

The IWCA is also a member of the Honduran Sustainable Coffee Platform (PCSH), "currently we belong to the sustainable coffee platform, where we have opened several doors through alliances with Rainforest Alliance and Rikolto for example" says Waleska, a space where we will have the opportunity to contributing in the process of the actualization of the policy.

Through this gender Policy I expect that, in the future, more women will be capable of running their own farms, not relying on the title to property of the husbands, being more sustainable, more women participating, being more visible, and being empowered in their region

Waleska Tabora Coffee farmer member of the Honduras Chapter of the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA),