Coffee conquers conflict for business-savvy farmers in the Philippines
By Kieran Guilbert
Five years ago, Filipina farmer Marivic Dubria would buy Nescafe sachets to serve visitors because she was embarrassed by the quality of the coffee she grew next to her main vegetable crops.
Life was tough for her family in Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines, as they struggled to earn $1,000 a year from their produce, with their coffee beans fetching only 20 cents per kilo from local traders.
But Dubria is now one of hundreds of farmers nationwide who are brewing up a storm with training from Coffee For Peace (CfP) – a social enterprise striving to boost growers’ profits, protect the environment and foster peace between communities.
Having learned how to grow, harvest and process high-quality Arabica beans at a time when global demand for coffee is soaring – it is set to hit a record high this year – Dubria exports her crop to buyers as far away as Seattle for at least $5 per kilo.
“But it’s not all about the money – it’s about taking responsibility for the environment and other communities,” Dubria told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in her home on Mount Apo while brewing a pot of thick, aromatic, treacle-like coffee.
Beyond helping coffee growers get a better deal, CfP aims to encourage dialogue between communities, with tensions ranging from colonial-era conflict between native Muslims and Christian settlers to land and resource disputes between ethnic groups.
Photo courtesy of Bruce MacDonald.