Global Programs

On International Women’s Day, Why Supporting Women is Key to Coffee


The remote Indonesian Island of Sumatra produces some of the most unique coffees in the world. Working with coffee producers in the region for over 30 years, supporting women coffee growers has been key to supporting families and developing livelihoods in the region.

For International Women’s Day, NCBA CLUSA is highlighting the role women play in the coffee industry—in Indonesia, and around the world.

“[Women not only] raise the coffee, but they maintain the coffee trees. They control the quality and harvesting and then selling the coffee… So the most important things are usually done by women,” said Yuliana Dolok Saribu, a farmer training specialist with ECOM North Sumatra Farmer Training Center.

Regionally in Indonesia, women are responsible for around 75 percent of the work on the farm, according the NCBA CLUSA’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Sam Filiaci.

“Without the women, the coffee would not be produced probably, and the economic well-being of all the people that sell coffee would not be nearly as beneficial to everybody,” Filiaci said.

Co-op farmers in Indonesia sell to global coffee companies, including Starbucks. NCBA CLUSA partnered with Starbucks in Sumatra to create sanitation water systems in coffee growing regions, providing safe, clean water for coffee growers and their families. The CoopWASH program ended in 2017, setting up clean water for over 27,000 people.

Women are the backbone of the coffee industry around the world. In El Salvador, NCBA CLUSA works with women farmers like Imelda Saenz to get access to finance, key to rehabilitating the coffee industry that was ravaged by the rust fungus over the past few years.

In Guatemala, supporting women in coffee, like Angelita, has meant stronger communities, better nutrition and a reason to stay and support local villages.

To learn more about how NCBA CLUSA supports women in coffee, and in other industries around the world, check out our international programs.

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