Coffee to boost income of Mankayan farmers-A A +A
Saturday, June 23, 2012
MANKAYAN, Benguet -- In a country where no day is complete without coffee, either instant, simply brewed or blended your way, the demand for this product has greatly increased, creating an opportunity for coffee growers in Mankayan.
Romeo San Buenaventura, Corporate Social Development Team program officer of the Far Southeast Gold Resources Inc. (FSE), which is in charge of Agroforestry programs, said “Mankayan is one of the best places where the Arabica variety of coffee can be grown; the high elevation, cool climate, and slightly acidic soil is perfect.”
Historically, the old commandancia during the Spanish Era in the old Lepanto was known for its coffee production.
Isabelo Batawen, a resident of Upper Tabio and one of the pioneers in coffee farming, attests to the economic value of the coveted beans.
“There is a big financial opportunity in coffee growing because we (the present number of coffee growers) cannot meet the local demand in the market,” he said.
“Most of our coffee produce is sold in the local market and only a few are harvested and sold to a coffee buyer who sells it to gourmet coffee shops in Baguio City,” Batawen added.
The Cordillera Administrative Region accounts for an average of 6,000 metric tons per year, according to the National Economic and Development Authority in the Cordillera. The cost of Arabica beans in 2010 was at P67.57.
Last June 14, San Buenaventura and his team of community Facilitators started the training on Coffee Nursery Establishment and Management with a rationale to build the capacity of indigenous peoples and the local community using assets found within the municipality.
FSE believes that through the implementation of asset based capability building programs, the local community is enlightened and then empowered to develop the natural resource-base of their immediate environment and improve their productivity and livelihood without endangering the biodiversity and natural agro-ecosystem.
One of the strategies to achieve this general objective is to teach the coffee farmers on the basic techniques of coffee nursery establishment.
The FSE agro-forestry team started with the Lower Tabio Farmers Organization composed of 98 members and will conclude with other farmer organizations or groups in the near future and plans to propagate the program to nine more barangays.
To improve the quality of their coffee beans and make it more marketable, the FSE Agro-forestry team evaluated the ongoing process of members of the community involved in Coffee farming.
Soil acidity testing results and other relevant studies were communicated to the coffee growers prior to starting with the training.
In addition to the training, the FSE teams are researching the coffee value chain, from growers to market to better understand how the farmers of Mankayan can benefit from participating in this exciting industry.
“This is just an initial activity to capture the vegetable farmers’ interest in coffee based agroforestry system,” San Buenaventura said.
“Here, we explain to the farmers how coffee can co-exist with other cash crops in their farms. We also provide the necessary training and basic knowledge in growing coffee,” he added.
Last year, the government had directed the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology to start assisting the farmers in producing and using organic fertilizer as a means to effectively control pest and diseases affecting coffee plantations, this as a means to revive the Coffee Industry in the Philippines. (PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 23, 2012.