Lavazza has chosen World Environment Day (June 5th) for the launch on streaming platform Amazon Prime Video, initially in Italy, the US and the UK, of the docufilm “Coffee Defenders, a Path from Coca to Coffee”, directed by Oscar Ruiz Navia, one of the best-known voices in contemporary Colombian cinema.
The documentary tells the true story of Johana, a young Colombian woman who lost everything during the armed conflict with the FARC guerrillas, but managed to take back control of her own life and that of her six children. She was determined to continue to live in her community in the fertile and unspoilt land of the Meta coffee growing region in the foothills of the Andes, where in 2013 the Colombian government gave farming families like Johana’s the land previously used to grow illegal crops.
Driven by hope and by an unshakeable belief in a better future, Johana was reborn through her work for her newly thriving coffee farm and tells a story of the emancipation of women and courage. And in fact, the symbol of her rebirth is a coffee plant, which the film’s central figure takes with her on the journey from her home to Costa Rica, where it will be preserved in the Cartago Agricultural Centre. Johana is accompanied on her journey by Alexandra Roca, a reporter who has written with great sensitivity about various issues affecting more than 14 countries worldwide, ranging from women’s rights to movements supporting indigenous communities. After returning to Colombia to document the country’s recovery after the armed conflict, she helps Johana tell her own story of difficulties and hope. Step by step, their journey takes the film’s two characters through scenes of incredible South America natural beauty, listening to numerous eyewitness testimonies on a path of rebirth and transition from war to peace.
“In that period people grew coca,” remembers our main character Johana. “I was afraid, but in the end, I said to myself “I’m going back, because this is my home and I can’t abandon it. It doesn’t matter if they want to kill me, let them, but I have to go back home.”
The Lavazza Foundation has been working in the Meta region, Johana’s homeland, since 2015, with a sustainable development programme that has improved the social and economic conditions of over one hundred farming families, including our leading character’s, helping them bring the coffee plantations back to life by planting over one million coffee bushes and training them to the use of good farming practices, including techniques to fight the effects of climate change. They are important results for these small communities. Productivity per hectare has risen twofold and the production of high quality coffee has been encouraged and certified by the NGO Rainforest Alliance, an international organization that guarantees the socio-environmental sustainability of agricultural production; in addition, small farms have been assisted in planting about 13,000 fruit trees, useful to give farmers a source of income complementary to that from coffee, in order both to increase revenue as well as to support the families food security of families.
The programme underway in the Meta region has also been developed with a special focus on promoting women’s rights, remembering that women provide up to 70% of the workforce involved in coffee growing, but that farms have women managers in only 25% of cases.
This is one example of the 24 projects promoted so far by the Lavazza Foundation, which was established in 2004 and has a presence today in 17 countries, across 3 continents, with over 97,000 beneficiaries.