Through environmentally friendly coffee cultivation, 93-year-old tribal chief Datu Mara Buan brought undreamed of prosperity to his village in the Philippines, while securing protection for a threatened animal species at the same time. The palm civet, a creeping cat species, eats coffee cherries and produces one of the most expensive coffees in the world – a gourmet delight. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ gave practical assistance to 190 coffee farmers.
As chief of the B’laan tribe I am responsible for the people in my village. Members of our tribe come to me for advice. What I want most is to preserve our traditions and at the same time to see that we, too, can benefit from the positive developments of the urban world.
In the past, we raised poultry and vegetables, but this didn't earn us enough money to send our children to school. I never went to school, myself. Since we started planting coffee, though, and gathering and selling the expensive beans the wild civets leave behind, things are looking up. Our village has its own school now. Some of our young people even go to university! We can afford motorbikes and cell phones, and these have made us a lot more mobile. And our houses are more solidly built.
Perhaps even more than before. We used to trap the civet 'cats' for their meat. But now we protect them and their habitat and plant banana trees so they have something to eat when the coffee-growing season is past. If we look after nature, she will look after us.
I have the privilege of drinking a cup of civet coffee every day. It gives me strength. This is probably why I'm still in such good shape at my advanced age. Besides, I still work my coffee farm myself, and that keeps me fit.
Many of my dreams have come true because of the coffee. I want to plant more coffee trees and see that my village continues to progress. With God's help, I will prepare my people for the future. I would like to see my family carry on what I started.