The stakeholders of the GREAT Women Project meet to discuss plans for the upcoming Women Micro-enterprise Assembly to be held in February this year.
The Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Philippines Project (WEE Project) or the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women 2 (GREAT Women Project 2) is a foreign-assisted project funded by the Government of Canada through the Philippine Commission on Women.
The project is in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology, and the private sector.
In the Cordillera, it targets women’s group who are engaged in coffee farming, and home-style and wearables handicraft. It aims to uplift the women’s socioeconomic status not only in terms of business but also in terms of transformational change to become successful entrepreneurs.
Towards the project direction in contributing to the development of coffee and home style and wearables sector, the Regional Technical Working Group and farmers representatives now plan for the WME general assembly.
The activity aims to gather WMEs and stakeholders from the said industry to discuss the status, accomplishments, and emerging issues, gaps, and challenges that have affected WMEs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; to agree and commit to measures and mechanisms to ensure sustainability and to discuss ways for the Regional Coffee Council to work together with coffee farmers of various associations/cooperatives under the GWP2 in improving the coffee industry.
In an interview with Evelyn Payacda, a coffee consolidator and processor of Bila Rural Development Club in Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province, she said that engaging in the coffee business helps women survive during this pandemic. She admitted though that the roasted coffee sales went down due to the quarantine restrictions. Most of their customers, like coffee shops, were closed. Now, they only cater to local shops and do online marketing to sell their products.
The project is now in its second year of implementation catering to 73 enrolled WMEs in the Cordillera. Under the Department of Agriculture-CAR, there are 18 WMEs being assisted by the project through capacitation on Coffee Quality Training, Orientation on Good Agricultural Practices on Coffee, and Institutional Building Trainings.
“We need the younger generations to continue the coffee industry; as the coffee trees, we need to be rejuvenated, we need to be pruned as we are getting old. Please support the coffee industry, buy local coffee,” shared Ms. Shirley Palao-ay, a coffee farmer from Tuba, Benguet, in her sentiments toward the coffee industry.