Agriculture agency allots P5M for Cordillera's OTOP

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ARABICA coffee, dubbed as the region's regional one town one product, is now finally being given special attention.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently allocated P5 million for the expansion project of Arabica coffee industry.

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The project will be made in six selected areas of Mountain Province, Benguet and Ifugao.

The project is geared towards the expansion of new agri-business lands for the coffee industry.

These activities will be conducted on July to December to increase coffee production in the region which is 300 kilograms per hectare.

The expansion project includes the establishment of a 60 hectare Arabica coffee plantation and the conduct of training for coffee farmers.

Aside from establishing 60 hectares of plantation, the project aims to generate 60 jobs and introduce integrated coffee production to promote good agricultural practices.

Organic fertilizer and more than 55,000 seedlings such as coffee, fruit tree seedlings as well as vegetable seeds will also be provided by the DA as initial inputs to farmers.

The project is one of the priority projects of the DA in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) under the High Value Commercial Crop Program.

Regional HVCC Coordinator Ruben Dulagan said the project could help uplift the economy of the Cordillera, particularly it will uplift the income of the involved farmers.

Cordillera Coffee Council chair Richard Abello said if an Arabica coffee industry expands in CAR, it can aid the regional council in its quest for autonomy as it will pave way for more cooperation in the region.

Abello added coffee growers' dilemma in the region remains the lack of commercial roasting facility for harvested coffee beans because most of the coffee beans harvested in the region are still being shipped to Batangas and Manila for roasting.

Other issues being addressed by the council is the limited quantity and production area of coffee as many farmers do not plant it and rely only on existing plants.

Poor quality of coffee has also been a predicament as inferior processing of the Arabica coffee are being practiced by farmers below the standards set by the global market.

Currently, there are around 10 to 11 local coffee councils in the region, which set policies and standards for coffee farmers to follow.

Abello said has been effective in driving prices of coffee up which is not detrimental and exploitative of the coffee growers.

The price of Cordillera Arabica coffee in the market right now is pegged at an estimated P150 to P180 a kilo which can increase as demand for our aromatic blend swells.

Currently, the country consumes around 65,000 metric tons of coffee with only 30,000 metric tons being produced by Philippine farmers.

Around P3.5 billion, or 35,000 metric tons, are still being imported from nearby countries like Vietnam and Indonesia. (JM Agreda)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 14, 2010.

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