The Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in Region XI (TESDA XI) laid down the requirements and processes towards the government’s accreditation of our farmers’ training programs. While firmly standing on our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Principles and Practices, we will seek to comply with all the requirements and procedures placed before us. We feel this is necessary to avoid being misinterpreted by the government as they look at peace and justice advocacies from the lenses of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
For us, inclusive development through farming and entrepreneurship is best seen and sought through a holistic, harmonious, view of life — that is, harmony with the Creator, harmony with our being, harmony with others, and harmony with the creation.
Food security is our priority.
We, as PeaceBuilders Community, along with our social enterprise, Coffee for Peace, Inc., do not encourage farmers to go mono-cropping. We encourage farmers to plant and grow food crops that are indigenous to their natural environment.
We learned this basic principle through the mentorship of Datu Migketay Saway of the Talaandig Indigenous People’s community. When we first approach their tribe about coffee production, he welcomed us, with wise counsel. He warned us not to follow the conventional forms of agri-business as instruments of colonization. “Multi-national companies,” he said, “oftentimes encroach on the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples turning hectares of ecosystem-balanced forests into mono-cropped fields. This resulted,” he continued, “to the disconnection of indigenous peoples to their land and to some extent, to their identity, because the IP worldview sees people connected to nature.
Since then, our inclusive development practices are influenced by the following principles and practices we learned from Datu Migketay:
- Food for People. A farmer toils the land for food and not to simply feed the companies’ purses.
- Farmers’ Value. Farmers commit to a fair-labor duty in order to give time to other activities that contribute to his or her well-being.
- Promoting Diversity. Re-introduction of smallholder farming and diversity demonstrated by multi-cropping, using local and indigenous seeds, and involving every able member of the family.
- Working with Nature. The farmer works within the traditional farming cycle in respect to the Creator and the spirits that guard the nature by performing the respective rituals. It also means being free from invasive technologies such as genetically-modified organisms, chemicals and the like.
We use coffee as mid-term means of livelihood.
Using our current capacities and resources, we will share coffee production competencies that farmers must have to become a community or a family of coffee farmer-entrepreneurs or ‘farmerpreneurs.’ This is our mid-term economic-ecological sustainability program.
We see coffee as a means of the family or a community to fund:
- children’s education;
- housing improvement;
- investment on carabaos or horses;
- savings for medical emergencies; and,
- recreational travel.
Through a series of competency-based training modules, we will walk with the farmers as they learn to:
- grow coffee seedlings;
- plant coffee seedlings;
- manage a coffee farm (from 1 to 10 hectares);
- harvest coffee cherries properly;
- depulp coffee cherries;
- dehull coffee beans;
- market green coffee beans (GCB);
- roast GCB;
- package GCB with their own label; and,
- market their own brand of roasted coffee.
Permanent agriculture is our long-term aspiration.
Together with the training program, we are developing a model for sustainable agricultural enterprise following David Holmgren‘s principles of permaculture which can be summarized as follows:
- Observe and interact
- Catch and store energy
- Obtain a yield
- Apply self-regulation and feedback
- Use and value renewables
- Produce no waste
- Design from patterns to details
- Integrate, don’t segregate
- Use small, slow solutions
- Use and value diversity
- Use edges and value the marginals
- Creatively use and respond to change
This agricultural enterprise that we are developing is located in Sitio Malipayon, Barangay Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. We refer to this farm as Malipayon Peace Hub.
Malipayon Peace Hub is also the center and demonstration area of this new training program.
We feel this TESDA accreditation is necessary to avoid being misinterpreted by the government as they look at peace and justice advocacies, especially in the rural areas, from the lenses of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.