In lieu of the Women’s Month, we celebrate in today’s column women in farming: coffee, cacao, coconut, organic vegetables and even urban gardening.
These women feed us with our daily needs and even our indulgent pleasures like chocolates, specialty coffee, coconut syrup and precious culinary herbs, too.
Though I have featured these women in the past columns, let me again commend them for pursuing careers in farming on in the value chain, when they could actually do other things.
For coffee: We have Princess Kumalah Sug-Elardo of Panamao, Sulu who has affected many lives in her small community and has grown her cooperative to a formidable size only through coffee. We have Tining Roces-Gamboa who chose to plant coffee in her land in Manapla, Negros Occidental even if she could just sell it or rent it out. We also have Councilor Nida Cabrera of Cebu who has encouraged coffee farmers in Adlaon to plant coffee. Finally, we have Juliet Bumolo-Morales who has begun reviving coffee in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.
For cacao: We have Josephine “Jophine” Ramos who has put up a Cacao training farm and processing facility in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Also included in the list is Dalareich Polot, an entrepreneur chocolatier who has brought cacao up the value chain with specialty chocolate bars. Not to be left out is Raquel Choa of Ralfe Gourmet of Cebu City.
For coconut: We honor Julie Alegrado and Vivien Go of Pili and Pinospecialties who have developed everything specialty from coconut “sugar” like jams, pancake syrup and granola products.
For organic farming: We honor Miggy Laurel Miguel of Davao City who has lovingly pursued farming after a bout with the dreaded big C. We also recognize Agnes Escalante of Manuel Pedro farms who taught me the basics of backyard farming as well as Marivic Sales who now runs our ECHOfarms in Amadeo, Cavite and Paula Aberasturi who continues to teach backyard gardening and how to grow herbs and edible flowers in your home.
Special thanks go to Minette Joson of Kababaihang Masigla of Nueva Ecija who has taught her women farmer neighbors how to make sundried tomatoes, malunggay and turmeric powder, rice and corn coffee and more.
These are the women exemplars who have continued to espouse organic farming and bringing of clean food to our tables. These are the women who start that fire in their communities to grow our own food and preserve our heirloom varieties. These are the women who, against all odds, pursue their dreams and follow their mission.
Whether it is to teach people to eat well or to empower a whole community of farmers to plant more coffee, coconut and cacao, they have it in their gut to carry on until we all know where our food comes from.
This women’s day and women’s month, we continue to look for women like them—to serve as examples of how women’s gifts of attention to detail and “stick-to-it-iveness” and perseverance can be used to pursue a career in farming and in value-adding so more of our next generation can be farmers, too.
Every time you eat something from the farm, chances are a woman had a hand in it.
Bravo to all these women farmers and enablers! Happy Women’s Day and Women’s Month!
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City, Antipolo and Iloilo City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org