PRINCESS Kumalah Sug-Elardo has been the poster lady of coffee in ARMM since she organized her cooperative, the People’s Alliance For Progress Multi Purpose Cooperative (PAP-MPC) in 2009 with just P170,000 in capital. Seven years later, the coop now counts about P15 million in assets, a growth of almost 1,000 percent.
Since 2012, when the ladies of ECHOsi Foundation visited her town and Chit Juan of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. and of International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Philippine chapter spoke to the local farmers on proper coffee harvesting, Princess found herself rewarded with better coffee harvests over the years.
Other organizations have recognized her efforts. One of them, the Villar SIPAG Foundation, gave her an award with a cash prize of P250,000 for being the Best Entrepreneur in 2013. In the same year she was also awarded Best Social Entrepreneur by the Go Negosyo Movement. In 2014, the PAP-MPC was named Model Agricultural Beneficiary by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
But these are not just plaques to hang on a wall. The numbers in the co-op’s balance sheet says a lot more.
The members now count P120,000 a year per family as income. It is truly a remarkable feat and this is all attributable to their focus on better quality coffee!
What did she have to do? Teach them to pick red ripe cherries, not green or unripe. Next, she collaborated with government agencies that had funds for cooperatives like hers. Third, she got in touch with NGOs like ECHOsi Foundation and Villar Foundation for training and fund support.
The rest, as they say, is history, or her story. Princess remains humble to accept any grant, whether it is a monetary or a study grant. “I continue to learn every single day,” she says. “My members are happy that they can now send their children to school and that they have more food on their table,” she continues.
Further, her community is at peace because no one is desperate to go for easy money by joining rebels. “They traded their firearms for coffee,” she proudly declares. It really is a story of coffee and peace.
Now that is a good sequel to her first story.
PHILIPPINE COFFEE BOARD