country women Dominican have decided to join forces and bet on a better future and empowerment by getting involved in projects for the elaboration of products derived from fruit and the coffee, with the support of the Spanish Cooperation.
The choice has not been accidental: coffee and fruit are two of the main agricultural products of the Dominican Republic and, specifically, of the Northern Cordillera, the scene of some initiatives that now want to be extended to another great protagonist, the cocoa.
Fruit and sustainable growth
The project for the production of jams, juices and fruit preserves, under the Frutada brand, involves 90 families (about 500 people) and seven communities in that mountain range: the women who work in the small factory (for now only five), the farmers who provide the raw material or those in charge of the sale in the same place of production, the distribution in grocery stores, the transport.
An initiative, led by the Spanish NGO Prodiversa, that has contributed to the development and sustainable economic growth in these communities by increasing the productivity and income of families dedicated to agriculture.
This is a closed project, with a budget of 208,173 euros from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and with the support of the Center for Popular Education of the Northern Cordillera (Cepocs), the Federation of Women of the area and municipalities.
During the visit by AECID officials, the factory workers -dressed in hats, masks and gowns- proudly show what their work consists of, beginning with the reception of the fruit (always from the area, agroecological and in season), washing and refrigeration in the so-called “cold room”, where you can see soursops, cherries, mangoes, bananas, zapotes, jaguars, pineapples, melons…
Then they are processed until they get the juice, the jam, the preserves, to end up carefully placing an eye-catching Frutada sticker on the containers.
Apart from the factory and the equipment to make these organic productsthe project has included training in ecological agriculture; collection, transport and storage; climatic and health risks, brand creation and management strategies, marketing or training and management of the cooperative.
The objectives are clear: generate employment in the area to stop the rural exodus of young people, increase fruit consumption, lower prices, reduce pollution as they are items made on the spot, empower women and increase their independence.
At the moment everything is on a small scale, but the aim is to expand the business and create jobs, especially promoting female employment. The reception could not have been better, although the goal of a thousand bottles of juice per day has been reached, “demand is greater than production,” they say at the cooperative.
Coffee as an empowerment tool
The other project has coffee as the protagonist and its main purpose is described in its title: Empowerment of women through the improvement of the transformation and commercialization of coffee in the district of Paradero, in the northern province of Valverde.
This initiative, which started in February and with an AECID budget of 235,784 euros, consists of creating a center led and managed by women in the small community of La Cayota for their individual and collective empowerment, while seeking to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable social strata.
It is a plan supported by a community of towns with the same idea: “We are building a new Northern Cordillera.”
And this at the hands of women like the Víseda sisters, who, faced with the works of the small factory that is being built, want to “go ahead”, with an eye on the new generations.
“We, the peasant women, do not want our daughters and sons to go to another city, we want them to find sources of employment in the community,” says Josefa Víseda.
He rebels against the ranchers cutting down the coffee trees so that the grass can grow and serve as grass and warns: “If there is no tree in the height, there is no water in the plain.”
Meanwhile, at the center for training in coffee making and business management, the women who are part of the plan, run by Prodiversa, highlight their determination to make it go ahead. “We are going to achieve our dreams,” they say.