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Friday, March 13, 2020

The women of Kalamansig coffee

SULTAN KUDRAT - The town of Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat is a haven of economic opportunities. The Moro Gulf, where a variety of fish can be harvested such as tuna and bangus, serves as the major fishing ground of the coastal communities in the town. 

Both upland and lowland areas are considered agricultural hubs, with corn, banana, and coconut as major produce. Another high-valued crop raised and roasted in the municipality is coffee. And the women of Kalamansig are making sure that Filipinos are drinking the best cup of it.

Leonora Baliguat owns a hectare of coffee farm with 1,000 trees in the village of Santa Clara and she has been farming since 1985, helping his husband, Emegildo. “Ako po ang nagpupruning ng mga puno ng kape, saka naglilinis dito sa farm,” she said.

Farmers like Baliguat sell their beans to local traders at P 85 per kilo, who in turn supply them to big companies like Nestle. “Kapag hindi season ng kape, sa mga traders din kami tumatakbo at umuutang para sa aming pang-araw-araw na gastos," she said.

Coffee farmers Allen Biore (left) and Leonora Baliguat.

Another woman coffee farmer, Allen Biore, who lives in the upland community in the village of Wasay, said transporting their harvests also reduces the income derived from coffee. “Tatlong piso kada isang kilo ang bayad sa habal-habal. Malaking kabawasan po ito sa kita naming mga magsasaka,” she said.

Biore is the president of Tinandok Women's Organization, a group of 32 women farmers that produce coffee in Wasay. According to her, an increase in market price will serve as a cushion for family expenses.

Support to farmers

The Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) linked Kalamansig Farmers Agricultural Development and Marketing Association (KFADMA) to new markets that give higher prices to their coffee.
“We entered the value chain of coffee here in Kalamansig, and the nearby town of Lebak, knowing that traders control the prices. We introduced the farmers to a new local trader in Batangas who buys the coffee beans at P 95 per kilo,” said PEF Area Officer Shunie Pearl Palacios.

PEF and KFADMA are now looking to build model farms in Kalamansig for coffee producers to learn new farming techniques that will improve both production and quality. “We will be partnering with other civil society organizations and the local government to make this happen,” Palacios said.

PEF said this collaboration is expected to benefit the lives of many farmers like Baliguat and Biore and offer more opportunities to other women in Kalamansig. (With a report from Rhoderick BeƱez.)

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