Brewing Up a Revolution: the Importance of Women in the Coffee Industry
In underdeveloped countries around the world, women make up an average of 45% of the agricultural workforce. Women-run farming operations provide essential income for families combating poverty and lend to the economic needs of developing communities.
In the coffee industry alone, female farmers contribute up to 70% of labor in leading regions. But the effects of gender inequality do not go unnoticed, as economic barriers and safety risks in the field continue to hold female farmers back.
Inequality Challenges Faced by Female Coffee Farmers
Coffee farming takes place in some of the least developed areas in the world, where farmers typically lack access to modern resources to sustain growth. In these regions, women experience limited access to farm funding, land rights, agricultural tools, and technology that are essential to reaping adequate yields and profits each year.
The ownership and holding of land are two domains of agricultural opportunity. Landowners are those who legally own the rights and documentation to control or transfer their land as needed. Landholders, those who execute the bulk of operations on owned land, ensure proper management is carried out through every aspect of the farm.
However, only 18–50% of landowners in the world are women (depending on location), and women account for only 15% of agricultural landholders globally despite making up so much farm labor.
Domestic requirements place further limitations on female farmers. Working mothers are often solely responsible for their households’ childcare, cooking, cleaning, and overall health. Meeting these demands results in fewer working hours compared to men, and limits their capacity to earn the estimated income goals required to live above poverty.
Between 20% to 30% of coffee plantations are staffed with female farm laborers, meaning out of the estimated 25 million coffee farmers in the world today, over 5 million are women. Still, because of gender inequality, limited smallholder resources, and domestic commitments, these women produce 20% less than male coffee farmers.
The International Coffee Organization (ICO) predicts if these gender gaps could be mitigated with continued effort, there would be an extra 30 billion cups of coffee per year. In global agriculture as a whole, closing the gender gap would ultimately decrease world hunger.
Meet Fitria Syahroni
Fitria Syahroni (age 34) works alongside her husband at the Solok Radjo buying station in Sumatra, Indonesia. In that role, she educates local farmers on how to plant and harvest red cherry, while her husband Endro works in fermentation. She is a second generation leader of a Solok Radjo coffee cooperative two and a half hours outside of Padang.
Fitria’s story is an inspiring one. Since 2016, she has been legally blind due to complications from diabetes. Despite her disability, she works hard every day to proactively communicate and improve the skills of farmers throughout the region.
She explains, “I can listen, I can touch, I can smell, and I can talk. My blindness does not limit my goals and my purpose of life. I even want to do more. I encourage people to continuously learn, to never be afraid of making mistakes.”
Her impact has expanded beyond the immediate area, and she now mentors students from universities and vocational schools in the important practices around farming coffee. She is also now part of the “Coffee Curriculum” initiative championed by Dimitra, helping liaise between leadership at local schools and supporting curriculum preparation and delivery. Fitria and Endro have been local champions of the Dimitra Connected Coffee platform, embracing how technology can help manage their soil, farming and processes and help them make better decisions regarding their end-to-end coffee process.
Fitria is one powerful example of how women are stepping into more leadership roles in the coffee industry. One key catalyst that is shrinking the gender gap is agriculture technology.
Accessible Agtech to Bridge the Gender Gap
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a list of 17 actions toward improving life for the planet and people everywhere. Two of the top five of these goals include mitigating world hunger (#2) and achieving gender equality (#5).
For female land laborers and smallholder farms everywhere, reliable technology is the answer. These modern technologies help empower female farmers to overcome obstacles faced in the field by enabling sustainable growth, smart farming practices, and maximized profit.
Governments and economies working with technological solutions help break down the barriers of the gender gap through:
- Land management
- Optimized crop planning
- Land documentation
- Informed trade and purchase
- Inventory control
- Operation cost management
- And more
Encouraging access to landholder data, farm funding opportunities, coffee cooperatives, and farm performance management are critical to the future of coffee farming. No matter the gender, location, or situation of a farmer, every person working in agriculture deserves equal access to the tech and education required for growth.
As a leading agricultural technology company, Dimitra aims to fuel this mission by providing reachable solutions to global coffee farmers. Dimitra’s Connected Coffee Platform advances smallholder farmer operations to improve farmer potential, productivity, and profit. Dimitra is partnering with local agencies and governments across the world to work towards these goals.
Dimitra embraces blockchain technology and uses their $DMTR token as a catalyst for the Dimitra ecosystem allowing farmers to exchange their data for tokens which can be used to access advanced analytic reports, sensors, farming aids, drone or satellite services or convert tokens to currency. Dimitra token holders enable Dimitra’s various applications to be delivered to smallholder farmers free of charge by sponsoring a project and staking their tokens.
“Every smallholder farmer, regardless of economic status, should be able to benefit from simple, beautiful, and useful technology… because when farmers thrive, economies thrive.”
- Jon Trask, CEO of Dimitra
Learn more about how technology can help farmers everywhere. Visit www.dimitra.com.