DAVAO CITY — Social enterprise Coffee for Peace is planning to help expand arabica coffee production in Alamada, Cotabato to meet growing demand from foreign markets.
Joji Felicitas B. Pantoja, founder and chief executive officer of Coffee for Peace, said the conflict-affected town, with its generally elevated terrain, is ideal for producing high-quality beans.
Current arabica volume in Alamada remains small, she said.
“Right now, we just hand-process them,” Ms. Pantoja said in an interview, adding that she currently has samples at home that she is studying for moisture content.
“Most likely, sa tingin ko pa lang sa (based on my initial assessment of their) coffee, magiging (it could be) specialty coffee,” she added.
Coffee for Peace provides training to farm communities, covering not just the agricultural aspect, but also peace and reconciliation, environmental protection, and entrepreneurship.
The group’s “5 Ps” framework stands for people, peace, profit, partnership, and planet.
“We are training the farmers there. What we do (is) partner with peace-builders because that is where I started. We promote the culture of peace… We coordinate and partner with the community there,” Ms. Pantoja said.
“Then we can talk business,” she said.
Alamada is in northwestern Cotabato, in the Soccsksargen Region, and its neighbors are the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, which are both under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Coffee for Peace also works in several conflict-affected areas within BARMM.
Ms. Pantoja said the organization gets many inquiries for arabica coffee from Europe, Canada, the US, Taiwan, and South Korea, but she always has to tell potential buyers that affiliated farmers cannot yet handle major volumes.
She said the organization can typically handle orders of about 600 kilos. “The highest that I have exported is 2,000 kilos to the United States and Canada,” she added.
“They (buyers) are requesting for 38,000 kilos. I had an order from Canada and they asked me if I can supply them with 50 tons a month of arabica,” she said.
Government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, she said, have been actively pushing for the production of arabica coffee to take advantage of export demand.
“The problem right now in coffee is not the market, it is the supply because we have promoted the coffee so well,” Ms. Pantoja said. — Maya M. Padillo