Competitive coffee-making for IP

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Zero Extreme Poverty 2030 (ZEP 2030) recently organized the first-ever Coffee Fest 2018 and gathered indigenous peoples (IP) who have taken up coffee farming, with the goal of increasing their production prior to greater commercial demand. ZEP 2030 aims to build a sustainable source of livelihood for IP families who comprise a fifth of the 1 million extremely poor families targeted by the coalition.

The Philippines is only one of a few countries that produce four kinds of commercially viable coffee: robusta, excelsa, arabica and liberica (barako). Many IP communities cultivate coffee along with other crops to maximize the potential of their ancestral lands for economic gain. Coffee is also one of the premium crops one can sell at a higher price.

The Coffee Fest, held in partnership with SM Bicutan, brought resource persons who interacted with coffee farmers from seven IP groups from six localities: Apayao, Benguet, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Negros Occidental and Davao del Sur, showing the latter the huge market potential of producing high-quality coffee beans in the local and international market.

ZEP 2030, composed of civil society organizations (CSO), is a movement that targets to help one million families from extreme poverty in the Philippines by 2030. The movement is organized into seven clusters — health, education, environment, livelihood, agriculture and fisheries, housing and shelter and partnerships with indigenous peoples — working individually and collectively in poverty alleviation programs. Through these interventions, ZEP has sought to achieve social justice and self-sufficiency for IP communities.

ZEP 2030 opened doors for IP coffee farmers to work with agriculturists in identifying the right variety of coffee to grow, considering their land’s elevation and soil type. The farmers also received information and instruction on pest eradication and disease protection, best practices on berry picking and pulping, proper storage, roasting methods and packaging. They were also introduced to product marketing and branding to make their end products more appealing to consumers. Products from IP farmers helped by ZEP 2030 are showcased at Advocafe, a café and restaurant that directs 100 percent of its income to capacity-building programs for IPs. ZEP 2030 is looking for other opportunities to distribute the coffee products more widely.

“Aside from teaching IPs best practices and new technologies in coffee production, we bring local coffee products closer to the consumers. Creating a ready market for the products of IP farmers ensures that they have a steady stream of income,” said ZEP 2030 head of Secretariat Benjamin Abadiano.

Also during the event, Philippine Coffee Board (PCB) president and co-chairman Chit Juan shared her insights and views on how these products could effectively penetrate the mainstream market. Juan also pledged PCB’s assistance to the IP farmers in terms of training and grading the coffee.

“Coffee production from IP communities can boost the Philippines’ coffee industry further. The variety, quality and even the story or journey of the coffee they grow can give us the competitive advantage over other coffee-producing countries,” Juan said.

ZEP 2030’s Coffee Fest 2018 was also made possible by the Indigenous People’s Leadership Development Academy, Assisi Development Foundation, Advocafe, Fides Foundation and the Peace and Equity Foundation.

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