Challenges to and importance of engaging women and youth in the coffee sector

In many producing countries the average age of coffee farmers is increasing, youth are not motivated to stay in coffee as they lack ownership of land, coffee trees, access to training and finance and benefits derived from coffee. As a result they increasingly leave rural areas and look for employment in cities. The continuation of coffee production by the “next generation” is therefore at stake, which poses a great risk to the coffee sector as a whole. Additionally, women form the majority of the world’s estimated 25 million coffee farmers, yet coffee is seen as a men’s crop. Women are responsible for many of the production activities, but men tend to benefit more from training in sustainable coffee practices, inputs, income and other benefits derived from coffee sales. This unequal distribution leads to many inefficiencies in the coffee chain, and hampers the development of the coffee sector generally, and production in particular.

About the toolkit

The toolkit was developed for the coffee industry, in response to the demand for knowledge on how to best integrate women and youth in the coffee value chain and provides practical approaches and tools for stakeholders and service providers. The contents of the toolkit should serve to motivate and assist coffee roasters, traders and their practitioners to apply an inclusive approach to developing better functioning coffee chains, benefiting both men and women of different age groups equally. The interventions recommended may also trigger increased production, improved quality and ensure a steady supply of sustainable coffee now and in the future. For this purpose, the toolkit provides practical approaches and tools, which can be applied in the daily work of farmers, producer organizations, traders and roasters, extension and financial services, standard certification bodies and networks. For each group the toolkit provides a range of customized tools for planning, implementation or monitoring and evaluation of interventions. The reader can differentiate between tools specifically designed for women, young men and women, or both groups.  Most of the tools do require experienced trainers for implementation. Coaches and trainers with specific tool experience are available in different countries to assist.

Resources used in development

The toolkit is based on the Gender in Value Chains Toolkit developed by Agri- ProFocus, which is applicable for different value chains, tools included were selected from existing gender focused manuals, including those produced by USAID, Enclude, GALS, ILO, Care and other organisations  . In addition, Hivos contributed its experience in the coffee sector worldwide, to enrich the original toolkit with case studies, from which new tools were developed. In this way, knowledge and best practices that had been contained in different organizations and have now been redrafted and new tools developed.

This toolkit is a product of the cooperation between Hivos, Agri-ProFocus and the Sustainable Coffee Program, powered by IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative. It was developed by Catherine van der Wees, Hivos, Angelica Senders and Marjoleine Motz of Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services, Anna Lentink of Enclude (formerly Triodos Facet), independent consultant Mieke Vanderschaeghe, and Jacqueline Terrillon, coach of the gender in value chains coaching track of Agri-ProFocus in Uganda.

The GENDER IN VALUE CHAIN TOOLKIT was launched on the 14th February 2015 at the 12th African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition in Nairobi Kenya.

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The toolkit is available for download at;