Yolanda Gómez, the mayor of the Alban municipality, comes from a family of coffee farmers. “ I remember that at the end of the day, my father would get home exhausted, although he would never complain. I saw that he needed something to push him forward, which is why we introduced ‘La Semana del Café’ (the Coffee Week) the moment this administration stepped up, showing our agricultural, environmental, cultural, gastronomical and our artisanal identity for our third year in a row. This event is dedicated to the coffee farmers, to motivate them and share their work and bravery to the world, making them feel important and supported. In the Alban municipality, there are 1.716 coffee farmers, of which 90% have smallholdings of their own. This is what we are. This is what Albán is ”, says the mayor, who has been so since 2016.
Several icons such as Profesor Yarumo and Juan Valdez have been invited to previous versions of the Coffee Week; the coffee farmers have have the opportunity to talk to them, asking questions and feeling identified with them. These invitations respond to another objective of this event, which is to form a bridge between institutions, such as the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros and the Albanite coffee.
Another of the Coffee Week’s objectives is to inspire young albanite men and women to treasure their coffee farming roots. This event has been complemented with the “Proyecto de Desarrollo Rural con Enfoque Territorial” (Territorial Focused Rural Development Project) of the International Migration Organization (IMO), implementing the Post-conflict Education Program for Young People, now developed in the I.E. Politécnico Juan Bolaños. “With the support of the IMO, the Canadian government, the National Federation of Coffee farmers, the Universidad Mariana, the secretary of Regional Education and the SENA, our school has motivated our students to love the countryside. We’re currently enforcing the ‘Granja Digital’ (Digital Farm) project, producing special coffee with the help of technology, so that students may apply this in their own smallholdings.
There is also a catering course, where many students have contemplated the possibility of becoming professional coffee tasters, with several of them already winning contests. As a school we are very satisfied with the results. We have cooperated with other educational institutions and formed the Agricultural School
Network —the other schools are: Divino Niño (Colón Génova), La Victoria (Tablón
de Gómez) and Microempresarial de Cabuyales (La Cruz)— and our dream is to show and sell our own coffee brand”, explains Arturo Ojeda Burbano, Dean of the Politécnico Juan Bolaños.
The Coffee Week also excels for its family friendly environment. During the Coffee Pageant that takes place in this event, members of each town support and cheer for their representant. The unit perceived has its origin in each town’s daily working day. In Alban they engage in something calle ‘cambeo’. Ruth Liliana Rosero Bravo, a local coffee farmer, explains this custom in the following way: “We have a farm called San Vicente. I have been a farmer since I was born, because my ancestors have always farmed coffee. Since it is very difficult to hire workforce, we opted for something called “cambeo”. For example, the Pérez Narváez family are helping us out this week, while next week will be our turn to help them. Here, the majority of farms have between 1.000 and 2.000 trees, so each family harvests their farms with the help of other nearby families (making it much easier). This way we give other people the opportunity to take food to the table”.