In coffee-growing nations throughout Central and South America, women play fundamental roles in all aspects of the agricultural supply chain, from harvesting, to picking, trading and entrepreneurship. And Colombia is no exception given the importance of the coffee industry in maintaining households and local communities dependent on the world-famous Arabica bean.
One of the departments that most produces coffee in the country is also one of the most diverse topographically. Known for magnificent varieties grown at altitudes above 1,200 meters, Huila is promoting sustainability, gender equality and economic empowerment by organizing women in farming cooperatives, among them, the all-women run Asoguaguëñas, from Palermo, Huila. According to a recent study by the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers (FNC), 30% of all coffee producers in the country are women, and responsible for 25% of national production.
The study highlights that some departments with a long coffee tradition have the lowest female inclusion rates, including Caldas, (19%); Antioquia (21.9%), and Tolima, (22.1%). These numbers contrast with global figures in which women are contributing between 40% and 80% to international supply chains, from cultivation to industry related jobs, such as roasters and baristas.
The launch of two limited edition coffees that tribute the hard work of women in the coffee plantations of Huila is the latest venture of Café Soca, a family-run company that specializes in selecting and drying cherries from farms throughout the department.
The Honey Soca and Mujer Caficultora blends were picked by the women of Asoguaguëñas on the Sinaí farm, one recognized in the region for growing exceptional Arabica with notes of walnut, caramel, grapefruit and panela (raw sugarcane). “We are a company with a family tradition, founded in 1998 by my mother, Maritza Serrato, who began by selecting the best beans for export. In 2005, we launched our first store in Neiva”, says Claudia Valencia, Café Soca’s financial manager. “Since then, we have made a difference in the Colombian coffee industry. This time, we created a tribute to the women of the Association, given their care and dedication in every part of the process.”
During the launch of the special editions in Soca’s Tequendama coffee outlet, farmers Lucrecia Dusán and Adriana Silva gave personal testimonies of how their association, as well as support from several dozen farms in the region, has secured income stability for single-parent households, and education opportunities for children. “Maritza is very dedicated to the family business, and sharing with entrepreneurs her knowledge so they can learn and prosper,” believes Dusán. “She is an inspiration to the Huila business community and country-at-large.”
For Silva, sustainable coffee farming must be inclusive and appreciated for the different skills and processes that go into every cup. “We are the producers, but without Soca we cannot transform a market. Beyond selling a product, we work as a team, one extended family.”
Soca also has two stores in Bogotá, as well as their flagship in Neiva. The company plans on opening a coffee store in Miami, USA, later this year, and the retail price of Soca Honey and Mujer Caficultora is $44,900 pesos for 340-grams bag. In 2019, Soca was awarded the Monde Selection 2019 Silver medal for quality, and in 2020, they earned a Monde Selection Gold medal for quality. IG: @Cafesocaco Visit their online store at: www.cafesoca.com