NESTLED at the highest Philippine highway system of Benguet province in the Cordillera Administrative Region, coffee growers like the Atok Arabica Coffee Growers Marketing Cooperative (Acogmac) have now become one of the top producers of Arabica coffee.
Acogmac in Barangay Caliking produces coffee now known as “Atokape” along the scenic Halsema Highway.
Dick Evasco, Acogmac chairman, said the project started in 1995 with only 30 members, but it was only in 2009 the Acogmac was formed.
“The cooperative was formed to have centralized coop and help coffee growers in Atok to have quality coffee. We need a quality and premium coffee,” he said.
Evasco added the cooperative was formed with the aim to share common systems to process Arabica coffee.
“We want to expand our coffee farm. We are using the coffee product as a business,” Evasco added.
Today, the cooperative has 280 members with every hectare of coffee farmland capable to produce 700 to 800 kilograms of coffee annually.
With the growing production, the cooperative has sought interventions to ease and improve the post-harvesting process of coffee.
Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry provided roasting and packaging equipment for Acogmac while the Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management and the Peace Equity Foundation has pitched in various loan programs and provided grants.
The Peace Equity Foundation wants this for farmers to expand as much as possible and continue present practice.
At present, the coffee growing culture rests with the cooperative trading 250-gram pack of Atokape made possible by the cooperation among the coffee growers, government and non-government organizations.
Among 38 entries in the country during the 2018 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, Atokape was graded as specialty coffee with an 87.06 grade surpassing the 80-point mark for specialty coffee.