By Digna D. Banzon
DAVAO CITY, Oct. 25 (PNA) — The civet coffee of Sulu produced by Muslim women and former rebels in Sulu has captured the international market.
Grown in the wild of Sulu, picked by the Alamid or the Philippine civet cat, the civet coffee beans are harvested and processed from the feces of the nocturnal animal known in English as the Asian Palm Civet.
Princess Kumala Elardo, chairperson of People’s Alliance for Progress Multi-Purpose Cooperative, said the civet coffee is the main product of their cooperative.
The business has grown that they were able to help marginalized farmers and even encouraged members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Abu Sayyaf to surrender their guns and use the cash reward for the coffee project.
The number of cooperative members has also grown to 2,200 or about 334 families directly involved mostly in the gathering of the beans in the mountains.
“We buy the beans from them at P3,000 per kilo,” Elardo said. The wild coffee is found in the mountainous area of barangays Panamao, Patikol, Talipao, Pangliam Espino.
According to Elardo, the project has improved the economic condition of these families from a status of no regular income before to an average income earners with P120,000 a year or P10,000 monthly.
“Our place now also has improved because the people already earn a living,” she said, adding that the families became productive and could already send their children to school.
The Sulu civet coffee labeled as Royal Coffee with brand name Kahawa Kubing comes in two packs with the 100 grams priced at P600 and the 270 grams at P1,500.
Elardo said their product was discovered by their buyers through the Coffee Origins Festival, which is organized every year by Philippine Coffee Board.
“We are regular exhibitor of the Coffee Origins and through this exposure our coffee gained interest from consumers both from here and those visitors coming from foreign countries,” she said.
Elardo disclosed that their initial production when they started in 2008 was only 30 kilos a year but increased to 300 kilos annually three years after.
And our target this year is pegged at 600 kilos, she said.
Elardo also disclosed they are receiving more orders that they are adding three more barangays for their production area namely Indacan, Kaligalan Kaluwak and Luuk.
“We hope to also expand our market both local and foreign,” she said.
Elardo said they have buyers of the civet coffee with distribution to France, Korea, Canada, Australia, the US and the Middle East.
On the other hand, Elardo said their cooperative was a recipient of an assistance in the form of equipment and other facilities from the government and private sector.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provided them with equipment such as pulper, dryer, grinder, roaster and de-huller.
The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao provided them seed money of P500,000 which they use for their operation and initial capital.
To date, the cooperative has a capitalization of P10 million.
She said their cooperative also was given an award in 2013 by Go Negosyo with their Organic Wash Robusta product.
Elardo vowed to continue improving their production so that more residents will be involved in the project noting that the solution to the peace and order problem in their area is economic. (PNA)