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COOPARM, coffee, Peru (Producer)

Elizabeth Arista Salazar is President of COOPARM (Cooperativa Agraria Rodríguez de Mendoza) coffee co-operative’s Women’s Committee. COOPARM has 500 members, who work to Fairtrade and organic standards, putting people and planet at the forefront of their work in producing high quality coffee. 

Elizabeth said: “The main vision for the Women’s Committee is that we are given visibility of women’s issues and women’s needs - as mothers as well as producers. Women are responsible for bringing up the children and organising the household. Some are single mothers. We don’t have much in the way of resources ourselves.

“The Women’s Committee is important for the family. At home, I have three daughters. The eldest daughter is nearly finished her primary school teacher training. She is going to be a primary school teacher. My second daughter is 20 and is studying nursing and the youngest
is 17 so she is at the end of secondary school. The focus is on education for our children so that they do not suffer the way we did, that our parents did.”


Elizabeth told us that a small amount of Fairtrade Premium is given to the Women’s Committee: “We meet to decide what to do with it. We might buy seeds. We might use the money to support a female member who is ill or who is in particular need at any time. 

“This is my second year as President. I want to keep on doing this to make sure that the female members of the co-operative are happy.”

Shared Interest has provided support to COOPARM for over a decade and the co-operative uses their facility all year
round. Due to farmers being located at different altitudes, they harvest coffee continuously and the finance enables them to pay farmers when their coffee is collected. COOPARM supports farmers by sending trucks to pick up the large sacks of coffee from nearby collection centres.

Elizabeth said: “The production starts at home. The ripe coffee cherries go into a pulping machine, which is like a bath and you leave them to soak overnight. The cherries that aren’t ripe float to the top, so you take them out with a sieve, and the rest is de-pulped - the outside of the cherry is taken off to leave the coffee bean. The beans are washed and left out on big trays in the open air and dried in the sun. 

“Once they are dried, they go into sacks that are stored off the ground on wooden shelves so they don’t pick up damp from
the ground or insects or anything from the floor. Either those sacks are brought to COOPARM headquarters or they are taken
to collection centres in the communities and villages. A COOPARM truck will come out to collect them, which is better for
the member as they don’t have to pay for transport. That is a facility that the co-operative offers us as producers - we need that help.”

We asked Elizabeth if male and female farmers carry out similar roles. She replied: “The women and men do the same jobs,
according to how strong they are. The women will tend to be responsible for making and taking food for the day. The men might do carrying, such as the sacks of coffee. People do what suits them best. We are very united, rural people and the men and the women support each other equally if anyone needs help.” 

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