It’s two years since I visited Nicaragua to meet the Fairtrade farmers from the Soppexcca cooperative in Jinotega. They grow the Arabica beans that we roast to make our Perkee coffee. A lot has happened since I visited, and following the turmoil in 2018, thankfully the area has returned to tranquillity. My colleague Miguel Camara is heading off to visit the farmers this weekend to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight.  I wanted to reflect on my trip and share why I believe it’s important to support Fairtrade farmers.

The influence of Fairtrade for women

It’s also International Women’s Day in a few week’s time. Soppexcca is led by an inspirational woman – Fatima Ismael. Most consumers don’t realise how Fairtrade empowers women too. This is the influence of Fairtrade I experienced in Jinotega:

  • Setting standards that don’t discriminate
  • Training women to lead
  • Seed-funding local women’s initiatives
  • Challenging historic gender-based patterns
  • Breaking down stereotypes of ‘women’s work’
  • Developing interventions to dismantle inequality

Helping financial independence

The female farmers I met explained that though they worked on the farms, historically they didn’t have their own bank accounts.  So, they couldn’t save any money or apply for credit. Their ‘earnings’ from working were given to their husbands when the coffee beans were sold. Because they couldn’t save money in a bank account they also couldn’t buy property or be financially independent.

Some men did share their coffee income but not all of them did. This left the women in a dependent situation and disadvantaged. Soppexcca and Perkee coffee changes this. Women can apply for credit from the cooperative to establish their own farms and plant crops. The cooperative provides training for the women farmers and allows the next generation of females access to education. They also provide workshops for men about the equal role that their female counterparts can play in society.

Reflect on the goodness your purchase is doing

So next time you drink a cup of delicious Perkee coffee – reflect on the goodness your purchase is doing in Nicaragua over 5,500 miles away. And remember to buy more Fairtrade foods. But not just for Fairtrade Fortnight – it’s for life not just two weeks. Look for the label in the supermarket – the easiest ones to spot are bananas!

Buying Fairtrade coffee helps to change lives! lin with Fairtrade banana

You can read more about how The Fairtrade Foundation is empowering women here

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