WE STARTED CONNECTING AMONG CORDILLERA FARMERS IN 2008

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Coffee For Peace (CFP) has been working with the office of the Hon. Thomas A. Killip, the Presidential Assistant in the Cordillera Administrative Region (PA-CAR), in advancing Fair Trade Principles among the coffee industry players in his region.  Dann Pantoja, CFP’s Fair Trade Advocacy Director, met with Mr. Killip last January 28, 2008 in his La Trinidad, Benguet office.

Responding to a February 11, 2008 letter of invitation by Mr. Killip, CFP conducted a training seminar on “Coffee Fair Trade and Classification” for the members of the coffee councils in Benguet and Mountain Province last February 18-22, 2008.  The training seminars were held in La Trinidad, Benguet and Sagada, Mountain Province.

Richard Abellon, Jr., Chief of Staff of the PA-CAR, organized the seminars and coordinated with various government and non-government organizations that resulted in a well-attended series of seminars.  At various times, he also accompanied and introduced CFP representatives to the coffee farmers and stakeholders in the Cordillera Region.

Under the directive of the Hon. Thomas Killip, Richard Abellon and his staff facilitated the organization of the Cordillera Regional Arabica Coffee Council (CRACC).  His wife, Christine Abellon, President of the New Benguet Chamber of Commerce, took care of the many details in this budding regional coffee industry movement.  She and her group of volunteers are actively supporting the PA-CAR’s initiative in organizing the CRACC.

For a year, Dann Pantoja has been visiting the Cordillera coffee councils on a quarterly basis to compare notes with them regarding the advancement and practice of Fair Trade in their industry.  He hopes that these endeavors would help build a foundation towards a mutually beneficial partnership between the CFP and the newly-organized CRACC.  Joji Pantoja, CFP’s Business Director, have started coordinating with Christine Abellon about a move to upgrade the quality of Cordillera’s coffee production processes in accordance with global standards.

Along with the coffee growers in Mindanao, CFP will journey the road to peace and justice with the coffee farmers of the Cordilleras.  We hope to see the coffee farmers in this beautiful archipelago become self-determining partners for a better world.