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Agriculture, Food & Nutrition, Planet, Asia Pacific

Promoting peace through coffee

Business Call to Action | Jul 21, 2017

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This article was originally published on Business Call To Action and is republished with permission.

Coffee for Peace joins Business Call to Action by pledging to integrate Philippine farmers  into its sustainable coffee value chain, bringing peace and prosperity.

Manila, 4 July 2017 – Philippines-based Coffee for Peace has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to train 500 conflict-affected farmers to receive certification in Good Agricultural Practices for coffee farming, increasing the number of farmers in its supply chain from 100 to 600 while tripling their incomes.

Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than USD 8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In 2008, Joji Pantoja and her husband Dann facilitated an informal conflict mediation in Mindanao, Philippines, between a migrant farmer and a neighbor from the host community. The two were threatening to kill each other over ownership of the rice field ready for harvest. Instead, they were invited for a dialogue over coffee. As a result of this successful mediation, other members of the community were brought together for coffee – and Coffee for Peace was born.

Through her peacebulding work, Ms Pantoja saw the potential of giving economic opportunities to these poor farmers. She observed that while most people living in the mountainous areas of Mindanao cultivated coffee, they would rather serve instant coffee than brew their own. Upon tasting these communities’ delicious coffee, she realized the enormous untapped opportunity for indigenous farmers – and with it the chance to bring lasting peace and prosperity to this conflict-affected region.

Coffee for Peace engages farming communities using the principles of peace and reconciliation – including advocacy and the promotion of active non-violence to resolve conflicts. In the process, the company is integrating people into its high-quality coffee value chain.

It starts by training farmers to grow and process quality coffee as well as resolve conflicts and other peacebuilding skills. Coffee for Peace then buys their beans at a fair price and exports them to the United States and Canada. Farmers are also encouraged to sell their beans to other traders: the training they receive from Coffee for Peace empowers them to negotiate with these traders in order to receive the best prices.

Recognized with several awards for its inclusive business model, Coffee for Peace has helped Philippine highland farmers to dramatically increase their incomes. As a result, many have begun sending their children to school and have built sturdier homes. They are also working side by side for the region’s prosperity and avoiding conflict – with each other and the Government.

“We saw that the way to bring peace to this region was through improving coffee cultivation and providing a market for farmers’ products”, explained the founder and CEO Coffee for Peace, Joji Pantoja. “Only by establishing an inclusive business were we able to empower communities to resolve their differences by helping them to build sustainable livelihoods.”

Of the more than 600 farmers given training by Coffee for Peace, 100 have already been integrated into the company’s value chain. There are plans to train 500 more by 2021 and integrate all of these farmers into the company’s value chain – aiming for a total of 600 local farmers supplying the company within five years.

In order to provide a sustainable market for farmers’ beans, the company has established a coffee shop in which farming communities’ stories are shared with customers. As its inclusive model is scaled up, additional coffee shops will be opened to provide a direct market for farmers produce and to highlight the challenges they face.

According to BCtA Programme Manager Paula Pelaez, “Coffee for Peace’s inclusive business model recognizes that the roots of conflict and poverty lie in economic and social inequalities. The company is addressing the root causes of these global issues by creating a vibrant market for farmers’ produce while empowering them to build a more stable future.”

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