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With her laptop, Sihaya Ansibod (Director of Field Operations at PeaceBuilders Community) shares coffee farming enhancement ideas learned from the best practices of award-winning coffee farmers we have trained.

Sihaya Ansibod leads a Peace and Reconciliation Team to train Bangsamoro folks in North Cotabato to enhance their coffee farming technique. These farmers have heard how some coffee communities we’ve trained were able to win in national coffee quality competitions and were able to export their specialty coffee to international market. They invited Sihaya and her team to share what we’ve been learning about inclusive development.

PAR and Inclusive Development. These Bangsamoro coffee farmers have invited our team to teach them our coffee farming management and post-harvest processing methods. We replied positively by sending our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Facilitating Team, led by Sihaya Ansibod, Director of Field Operations at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI).

The farmers we’re confused at first. “We need your coffee experts,” they told us, “not your peace education team.”

Our PAR Facilitating Team: Seah Olimpain, Sihaya Ansibod, and Wanay Baluyan.

During an exploratory meeting, Sihaya explained that PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace (CFP) have seen the improved lives of our farming partners who grew from being a raw-material supplier to becoming a farmer-entrepreneur or farmerpreneur. But the hindrance to inclusive development,” she said, “is usually caused by bitter conflicts among successful farmers who are divided by various financial interests. When a group of farmers become more financially powerful than others because of greed and unjust structures,” Sihaya explains, “development becomes a blessing to some and a curse for most; some are included and most are excluded.” 

In our experience, some coffee growers who become farmerpreneurs can easily be manipulated by capitalists from outside their community who cause division among coffee farmers who are new to handling increased revenues. These capitalists pit the farmers against each other to gain control over the community who were initially trained to become social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship then becomes another social injustice despite its nice-sounding label. Because of this, PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace, Inc. insist that Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) training be a part of the values formation in every inclusive development initiative in which we get involved.

PAR is Peace and Reconciliation. PAR is the heart of our ministry. We understand peace as harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation), harmony with our being (psycho-social transformation), harmony with others (socio-political transformation); and, harmony with the creation (economic-ecological transformation). 

Reconciliation is focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.
 (J.P. Lederach)

Exploring Inclusive Development in the Post-Conflict Milieu. Sihaya and her PAR team are beginning to journey with this Bangsamoro community who are enjoying their newly-won autonomy. Now that there is relative peace between the Bangsamoro and the government, PBCI and CFP have been invited by a group of young farmers who desire to become ‘farmerpreneurs.’ They call themselves PeaceCreed Philippineswho have organized themselves for the purpose of “coffee quality production training for farmers within the Peace and Reconciliation framework.”

“In this new context,” Sihaya said, “we can apply the best practices we have been learning as inclusive development facilitating team among the new generation of Bangsamoro who are the budding farmerpreneurs in their new autonomous region.”

Last 23 July 2018, the Philippine Senate ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law or the BOL. The next day, the House of Representatives did the same. In 26 July, President Duterte signed Republic Act No.11054 into law providing for the establishment of an autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). A series of plebiscite was held, January 21, for ARMM areas; 06 February for Cotabato and the 6 municipalities of Lanao del Norte, including areas who petitioned to join the Bangsamoro. This created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). This is all in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — a peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.