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Higher   Ground  empowers Jamaican Women in Coffee for a better and sustainable future

Higher Ground
Picture credits: Coffee Quality Institute

MILAN – Higher Ground is a multi-year project between the Coffee Quality Institute and JAWiC (Jamaican Women in Coffee). The program delivers skills training and community leadership development, incorporating international coffee quality standards and enabling broader market connections. This effort began with introductory, virtual training in processing. “This was the first step in a holistic plan we call ‘Higher Ground,’” said JAWiC President and Co-founder, Andrea Johnson.­

“Getting our members access to training is something we can do now during the pandemic, thanks to technology.” Most of the women in this cooperative have never had formal training in coffee production, are experiencing decline in production and quality, resulting in significantly reduced income.

“The women who participated in this class, and others in this coffee growing community, face myriad challenges,” stated Tina Yerkes, PhD, CEO of Coffee Quality Institute. “But they are making changes and gaining competencies that are going to improve that situation. It is a pleasure to be a part of this effort and we could not support it without the visionary donation program of Falcon Coffees.”

In 2020 Falcon Coffees announced a program of ongoing support for the work of CQI, donating a portion of the sale of each bag of green specialty coffee sold. The purchases their customers make translate directly into donations to CQI that result in tangible impact for producers.

“In the past, we could not launch these comprehensive education frameworks designed specifically for groups like Jamaican Women in Coffee, as funding is always the biggest barrier to implementation for nonprofits,” Yerkes added. “The support we are getting from Falcon Coffees is allowing CQI to partner strategically and for maximum impact, allowing us to change the way we initiate and design projects. This is progressive for us and absolutely necessary for CQI to help producers in a way that leads to sustainable coffee communities.

“Jamaican Women in Coffee, a chapter of International Women in Coffee Alliance, empowers a sustainable future where women have equal access to resources and the benefits of their labor,” Johnson stated. “Having access to training is a valuable tool for our membership, and a step in the direction of parity for women in Jamaica’s coffee industry.”