After attending PCBI’s National Coffee Summit in 2009, I applied what I had learned. Delighted by the fruitful results of my backyard farm, I shared insights and knowledge with my community. Now, thanks to coffee, we enjoy peace and progress—that is my dream for others, too, where women are not of leading, and men are proud of supporting them. Together, we can create a wonderful world.
TURNING PROBLEMS INTO OPPORTUNITIES
I believe this wonderful world can happen, so I traveled to Sultan Kudarat, Bukidnon, Nueva Vizcaya, Cavite, Ifugao, and Kalinga to teach Women in Coffee. Listening to the women’s concerns, I realized that my participants share three common challenges: difficulty in balancing farm and family duties, lack of training, and lack of government support.
I described proper planting to post-harvest processing, showing photos to complement each step. I was encouraged when the participants asked questions because it confirmed their interest to learn.
And while drying equipment and other facilities are needed and should be given by the government, I reminded the women not to rely too much on our public servants. After all, the ones in position also need to verify the women’s needs, and it takes time for the budget to arrive. Some leaders also experienced supplying the much-needed help of their constituents but saw that the resources were not used productively. In the end, time and resources were wasted.
My father once told me, “Look at the ants. Put something sweet and they will come. You don’t have to call them.” Likewise, I encouraged the women to believe in themselves and have faith in their community too. Opportunities may already be there, like a fellow local who could offer the land or have everyone chip in some money until they can afford the materials and then work together to build the communal facility. The positive attitude of the community works wonders.
I’m happy to see that my participants have applied what they had learned, like Juliet who adjusted the height of her drying beds and started farm tourism, and Carissa who practiced proper post-harvesting.
TOGETHER THROUGH COFFEE
When women and men help one another, the next generation sees the transformation. Both are free to ask questions, to listen, and to give advice. There is mutual respect. That is how gender and development changes our lives for the better.
Written by Princess Kumala Sug-Elardo