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Church workers help farmers earn from coffee

New techniques and a special fund are benefiting Filipino tribespeople

Tribal farmers with coffee beans from a recent harvest Tribal farmers with coffee beans from a recent harvest
  • Rick Flores, Sultan Kudarat
  • Philippines
  • January 20, 2011
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Church workers in the southern Philippine town of Aquino in Sultan Kudarat province are helping tribal farmers boost their income through sustainable coffee cultivation.

“Most farmers are burdened with debt,” said Narciso Jover, executive director of Tri-People Concern for Peace, Progress and Development in Mindanao (Tricom).

To address the problem, Tricom teamed up with Church workers to reach out to farmers in the hinterlands and teach them sustainable agriculture.

“We saw the need to instill among farmers the value of sharing these ‘gifts’ and the Church workers were effective in doing this,” said Vicente Toring, a community organizer.

Tricom, which helps indigenous peoples make their ancestral lands productive, also set up a special fund to help tribes cope, especially during the off-season.

Paul Relacion, a Tricom advocacy officer, said the Church workers ensure the funds are managed well and are equally distributed among the farmers.

Tricom intends to raise P150,000 (US$3,374) to be distributed to Manobo Dulangan tribal people as additional top-ups for their capitalization into coffee production. The fund is intended to help some 500 farmers on a “revolving” basis.

Beneficiaries are in batches, Relacion said.

“The first batch is responsible for returning the fund without interest, then the next batch of farmers will benefit,” he said.

Tricom welcomed the help of Church workers who are familiar with the areas covered by the funding scheme and are known among the local people.

“They can go to areas where most of us cannot and they are doing this to help the farmers who are dependent on coffee for their survival," said Relacion.

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