Patricia Quijandría Díaz formed a passion for sustainability while working with certified farmers in the forests of Peru for her degree. She is now UTZ country rep for Peru and Ecuador, based in Lima. We’re excited to hear about her daily activities and to find out more about the impact of UTZ’s work on gender equality in these countries.

“Every day I support farmers’ groups, companies, buyers and consumers”, Patricia explains. “I work with different organizations from local NGOs to governmental institutions, and am often in contact with technical assistants and coffee and cocoa producers and manufacturers.”

“Exchange of knowledge and information is part of the every day experience. At least once or twice a month I travel to the regions to meet certified producers. I’m never bored, there is always much to do.”

Patricia Quijandría Díaz, UTZ country rep Peru & Ecuador

Peru has around 45 farmer groups producing certified coffee, and 25 producing cocoa, where estimated production grew by 49% in 2015-2016. Ecuador has 56 individuals and groups producing cocoa, and one UTZ certified coffee company. “Ecuador is one of the three countries with the greatest amount of UTZ members, so I’m very proud of working there,” says Patricia.

Improving gender equality

Gender equality is an increasingly important part of UTZ’s work, and Patricia sees the reasons why first hand:

I think sometimes the role of women is not clearly seen, but women are key to economic growth and poverty reduction because they are so involved in investing money in the farm and family.

Many of the cooperatives UTZ works with are implementing projects after receiving training. “There is a lot of focus on developing projects to diversify income,” says Patricia. “Some groups are learning to print coffee bags and promote their organization through different marketing methods. I think this gives women more empowerment to improve their jobs and lives within the family, and also the future of the organization they are involved with.”

Patricia Quijandría Día talking to Fanny of CENFROCAFE cooperative in Peru

Patricia talking to a member of CENFROCAFE cooperative in Peru

One of the cocoa coops Patricia works with is ACOPAGRO in Peru. “They have identified lead female farmers and trained them on topics such as technical assistance, marketing and leadership. The women now lead on training sessions for other members, and develop business opportunities around chocolate manufacturing.”

Another cooperative, CENFROCAFE, formed a women’s committee that received training to help promote Café Apu, a cool coffee shop and brand they set up to sell their coffee.

What does this work brings for women? Patricia explains:

They feel they are given more opportunities to succeed. The women are not just part of farm life where they stay behind. They feel they can contribute in a better way to improving their family’s economic position. They are very empowered and it’s clear to me that gender equality is the base for all these improvements.

Use our gender toolkit

Want to read more about our position on gender equality and hear from female coffee, cocoa and tea farmers about the impact of the UTZ program on their lives? Download the gender toolkit.