Truly, we never know where life will take us. Angel, after 17 years of working with a chain of hotels and resorts, felt that she needed a shift. She wanted to do more and learn more.
“I was turning 40 when I decided to make a career shift to learn something new. I knew I needed to do it at that point, otherwise it will be too late for me. Everything can be studied and learned. That’s the beauty of life.”
Life at Nestle
“Para kanino ka bumabangon?” We asked this to Angel Bautista, Nestle’s Corporate Affairs Executive and from her response, we saw how deeply she cared for coffee farmers.
Angel, known to many Nestlé-supported coffee farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat, has been with Nestlé for more than a decade. With the shift in industry, Angel first joined Nestlé as the Administrative Assistant to the President and CEO. After two years, she transferred to Corporate Affairs where she started working on projects for smallholder coffee farmers.
“When I started going around the country in 2012 for the Nescafé Plan, I got to know the coffee farmers and have been happily engaging with them since. I feel their warmth, dedication, and eagerness to be successful in coffee farming. And when I’m able to help, it lifts me up and gives me the energy to continue what I do,” she shared.
Creating Shared Value
Her work in the Nescafé Plan, Nestle's longest running Creating Shared Value program has taken her to a lot of places all over the country. More than the breathtaking views, what she loves most is the relationship she has built with the coffee farmers and seeing them thrive throughout the years. She knew that she needed to understand their experiences and day-to-day life and see the world through their eyes to truly make an impact on their lives.
“It’s very important to empower our farmers and build their capacities as agripreneurs. Otherwise, di magbabago yung mindset nila na ‘farmers lang kami’. (Otherwise their mindset that 'we are just farmers' will never change.) Dapat proud sila maging farmers (They should be proud to be farmers.) They produce our food, but ironically they’re the ones experiencing hunger. They work hard to grow the crops but it’s sad that our farmers cannot sustain themselves.”
One of the concerns of the farmers is their income while they are waiting for the harvest season.
"Yung kinikita nila sa farm nila, they have to learn to invest it back on their farm para mapalago, mapaganda, at ma-expand ang farm nila.” (Farmers need to learn that what they earn from the farm should be invested back. This will help them improve and expand their farms.)
Through the Nescafé Plan, Nestlé capacitates farmers to be agripreneurs by teaching them business and technical skills to improve coffee production while helping them to grow other crops and get into other alternative sources of income such as livestock. Nestlé’s agronomists, field technicians, and coffee ambassadors also train the coffee farmers on various farming methods, including Regenerative Agriculture which Nestlé introduced in 2018, so they can be resilient and contribute to caring for the planet for the future generations.
“For Nestlé, farmers are very important kasi they produce the raw material that we need for Nescafé; the value chain starts with them. We empower them by improving their business and technical skills on coffee production. We teach them to become agripreneurs. They have to see farming as a business, keep records, diversify, and plan the production of their farm throughout the year."
When farmers thrive
Angel recalls the story of Arnold Abear, one of the coffee farmers assisted by Nestlé in Bukidnon. He applied his learnings from Nestlé and GIZ' Farmer Business School. Eventually, he was able to increase his coffee productivity to more than a ton per hectare and this helped him acquire additional parcels of land and to build his dream two-storey farmhouse, with the help of the Nescafe Plan’s flagship project, Project Coffee+, in cooperation with the German development agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Aside from Arnold’s story, Angel also finds inspiration in the experiences of the members of Bayanihan Millennium Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, managed by a female coffee farmer Leonila “Ate Neneng" Secadron. Most of the members of the cooperative are Indigenous People, majority are women, and some youth coffee farmers.
“Through Nestlés linkages and partners, maraming support ang dumating sa kanilang Coop. Kasama sila sa DTI-RAPID Growth Project at Project Coffee+. Nakatanggap din sila ng assistance ng Sagip Saka noong 2013. We also planted fruit and timber trees in their area in 2012. Natutuwa ang mga Coop Officers na makita na unti unting gumaganda ang buhay ng members nila.” (Through Nestlé’s linkages and partners, the cooperative received a lot of support. They became part of the DTI-RAPID Growth Project and Project Coffee+. They also received assistance from Sagip Saka in 2013. We also planted fruit and timber trees in their area in 2012. The officers of the cooperative are happy to see that slowly but surely, the quality of life of their members is getting better.)
Angel is excited to see more coffee farmers thrive like Arnold and the members of the Bayanihan Millennium Multi-Purpose Cooperative. She is hopeful that key players in the coffee industry can work together to address all the challenges and needs in the value chain, so that both the coffee farmers and the coffee industry will flourish.
Shaped by women
Throughout her life, Angel is surrounded by empowered women who inspired her. By her example, Angel’s mom taught her perseverance and resilience. Her mentors in Nestlé also instilled in her to adapt and strive to make a difference in the lives of others through her work.
“Nag stick sa akin yung, ‘not a lot of people are given the opportunity to do good while doing their job’. So maganda yung ginagawa namin sa Corporate Affairs na habang nagtatrabaho kami, may impact ang programs and projects namin sa communities.” (I always keep in mind that not a lot of people are given the opportunity to do good while doing their job. I like what we are doing in Nestlé because we are able to create impact in communities through our programs and projects.)
Angel is a testament that it is never too late to choose a different path. She hopes that more women and youth will see value in the agriculture sector. For Angel, the women and youth definitely have a purpose in creating a more inclusive and sustainable agriculture sector, together with Nestlé, ang Kasambuhay ng Magkakapeng Pilipino (life partner of Filipino coffee farmers).