Rejuvenating Benguet’s coffee industry

COFFEE is considered as one of the top high-value crops in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

In Benguet, enhancement of quality Arabica coffee is pursued as local farmers were equipped with proper technology.

Among the coffee variety, Arabica is the most preferred in both local and global markets because of its commercial value as a beverage and medicinal drink for people with kidney problems, and aid in curing hangover and headaches.

Just recently, Taiwanese and Filipino coffee producers were equipped with proper nursery establishment, field management and postharvest processing of Arabica coffee spearheaded by the Benguet State University Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agroforestry (BSU-IHFSA).

Andres Basalong, BSU–IHFSA Research and Extension Complex director, said the goal is to provide appropriate production and processing practices on Arabica coffee to the beneficiaries for them to be able to have a productive coffee plants and quality coffee products to have a good market and consumer satisfaction.

Kape ti Uma Inc., a local coffee company continues to help farmers in the different parts of Benguet in accessing skills and knowledge linking the stakeholders to the professors of the university in the hopes of improving production and quality of the Benguet Arabica coffee.

“We do this advocacy especially we know that skills training even cost very much. We are very fortunate to BSU-IHFSA. We hope that we can encourage our local farmers to acquire their training,” Attorney Johneva Pastor-Quadra, Kape ti Uma board of director, stated.

The local coffee key player seeks to open the coffee industry to the small household coffee farmers and help them improve coffee farming practices, help farmers produce world-class quality coffee to improve their standard of living through environmental and cultural means.

During the two-day activity last month, National Sun Yat-Sen University Center for Southeast Asian Studies director Tsai Hung-Jeng from in Kaohsiong, Taiwan introduced similar landscape in Taiwan of coffee farming and exchange knowledge on coffee production.

Hung-Jeng said they opted to have a contact of the everyday lives of the local people and learn more knowledge of coffee farming in the field.

Students from the university, who are also coffee farm and coffee shop owners were exposed to the Arabica coffee production training.

“If condition allow, financially and other administrative work, we will continue internship program for the coffee industry in the Philippines,” he said.

Hung-Jeng added Taiwan consume so much coffee, with both countries close to each other extends engagement to learn more about coffee.

Iwak Tribe Indigenous Coffee Farmers Association, a newly formed group conveyed to apply the acquired technology and knowledge back to their home to set example in their area.

BSU’s Department of Agroforestry associate professor Valentino Macanes lectured the quality of coffee produced in the country is generally substandard due to poor cultural practices including the lack of irrigation, no fertilization and no pruning.

“Hence, a need for intensified technology development and promotion through research development and extension is needed,” he added.

One of the promoted technologies includes coffee rejuvenation which involves cutting of vertical stems or trunks of old coffee trees to induce growth of new sprouts.

Rejuvenation or “to make young again” for old coffee trees candidates for rejuvenation that comprised of 10 years old trees advised to be rejuvenated during rainy season.

Studies reveal rejuvenation makes the coffee bean yield to 100 percent and 500 percent reduction labor cost.

During the 80's, promotion of rejuvenation started however, IHFSA senior research assistant Von Amado added challenges such as the local farmers’ resistence “to see is to be believe” persist.

Old rejuvenated coffee trees have one year advantage on harvest compared to the non-rejuvenated trees.

In the province, coffee production is not integrated with highland vegetable farming.

Amado added quality coffee production can be attained through sharing and disseminating appropriate technology and system.


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