03 August 2018: Filipino social enterprise Coffee for Peace is mediating disputes in the Philippines’ most conflicted region by harnessing the power of coffee as a communication tool

This article was originally written by Cristyn Lloyd and published in the July 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine.

There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a good old cup of coffee. This is the firm belief of Joji Pantoja, founder of Coffee for Peace, a Filipino social enterprise using steaming-hot brews to encourage warring communities in the conflict-ridden southern island of Mindanao – rocked by decades of violent separatist insurgencies – to put down their arms in the name of peace and reconciliation.

“When there’s coffee served, they sit down, they talk more and there’s less fighting – and there’s less death. So coffee can now serve as a vehicle for peace.”

As a peace advocate, Pantoja realised the symbolic power of coffee when encouraging dialogue between the separatist rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front and government forces over the military’s disputed crossing of a designated peace line.

“I noticed that they served us coffee,” says Pantoja. “When there’s coffee served, they sit down, they talk more and there’s less fighting – and there’s less death. So coffee can now serve as a vehicle for peace.”

The team uses high-quality arabica coffee beans from the few plants that weren’t destroyed during the American occupation of the Philippines to help Christian settlers, indigenous groups and the Islamic inhabitants of Mindanao escape poverty and the pressure to join militant groups.

Young people – ages 13, 14, 15 – would be holding guns because they thought that there was no hope

Coffee for Peace gives them the entrepreneurial skills to grow the coffee and price their product. Coffee for Peace then buys it at Fairtrade prices and exports it to countries as far-flung as the US and Canada.

In giving vulnerable, marginalised groups the economic opportunity to grow and sell high-grade coffee, Pantoja aims to break the cycle of generational violence and the appeal of violent groups like the communist New People’s Army. Perception has been a roadblock. A deep distrust has formed against the government, which had stripped the land of resources for mining and logging interests, leaving the people sceptical of Pantoja’s peace-building intentions, says Pantoja.

“Because they have no income, [the rebel groups] would say that the government has really forgotten you,” Pantoja says of tribal communities. “And young people – ages 13, 14, 15 – would be holding guns because they thought that there was no hope… It’s so painful to always see this.”

A philosophy of sharing encouraged communities to teach each other farming practices. Coffee for Peace encouraged the indigenous Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe, which had been pushed out of its homes by Christian settlers hired by a logging corporation in the ’50s and ’60s, to share their farming practices and train members of the tribal group.

Pantoja says her peace and reconciliation efforts are the central mission of Coffee for Peace, and that the model has promise beyond the Philippines.

“Skills are easy to pass on,” she says. “But if they are still corrupt inside and [they do] not have that ownership of being a change agent, then it would just be another kind of enterprise that could easily fall.”

Comments

Assignment help online on Oct. 13, 2018, 10:24 a.m.

Use plagiarism checkers: Another way is just install the free plagiarism checker, there is one doubt in using this software. They doesn’t mean all free application will give you 100% plagiarism free content. In that case you can use any assignment help service for plagiarism free content.

More from the blog

There has been a rise in violence in Kashmir, amid claims of a growing acceptance of these killings in the pubic psyche. This article seeks to shed light on the roots of the violence, one of which stems from an increase in recruitment of young people into militant groups. The author describes young people in Kashmir as a tinder box, with the potential both for violence, and for sparking movements to peace. Their actions carry the possibility of provoking conflict, but also the means to turn against it. Read more »

25 September 2018

For the past two years, drama workshops have been carried out in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for former child soldiers, who then go on to perform shows in their communities. The aim of the workshops is to facilitate their reintegration into society, notably by changing the way people look at them. Read more »

22 August 2018

The 10th KROKODIL Literary Festival, which took place last month in Belgrade, featured several debates in which participants discussed the themes of common language and historical revisionism in the Western Balkans. Read more »

12 July 2018

More from the blog