COLOMBIA, SERRANIA PERIJA – WOMENS POWER
Many of the women who are members of Asociacion de Mujeres Cafetera Plan Mil are single mothers and arrived in the Serrana del Perij subregion as refugees displaced by violence. Today, thanks to the association and its partners, they are specialty coffee growers utilizing advanced agricultural and processing techniques to produce this excellent Fully washed coffee.
The Asociaci n de Mujeres Cafetera Plan Mil was created in 1998. The partnership was geared towards replacing illegal crops like coca (used to produce cocaine). Many of the women in the program arrived in the region as refugees displaced by violence, and many are also single mothers. Today, these same women co-own or own their own farms, where they grow specialty coffee. Many have even succeeded in establishing direct relationships with artisan roasters from around the world. Together, they have worked to secure better quality processing equipment, receivedtraining in entrepreneurship and in organic production practices and certification. In addition to growing and selling specialty coffee, the women of the cooperative also produce and market blackberries, plantains, bananas, pumpkins, cassava, beans, corn and yams to help supplement their income from coffee production. The Serran a del Perij mountain range is an extension of the eastern branch of the Andes. It stretches approximately 310 kilometers from Venezuela into Colombia and ends at the Guajira desert.
The sedimentary soil is the optimal depth for growing coffee but lacks the proper moisture retention. Thus, farmers use agro-forestry systems to provide shade and minimize moisture loss. They also utilize soil conservation practices to preserve existing soil from erosion and degradation. Many farmers plant native trees such as plantains, guamos and avocados as shade trees. All coffee is selectively handpicked and pulped using small pulpers located on the producers’ family farms. Pulped cherry is then fermented for approximately 18 hours before being fully washed and then laid to dry in sun for 7 to 14 days. Inconexus, a partner for the group, is helping to build a communal drying area withpa rabolic beds to maximize drying space and improve drying processes.