THE Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas is pushing for a more sustainable production among coffee producers in Murcia town, Negros Occidental.
This means that the production should not only be limited to manufacture, but rather expand it into an enterprise by adding value to their coffee products to increase revenue.
The DA-Western Visayas underscored the success story of the Minoyan Murcia Marginal Coffee Growers (M3CG), which is composed of 56 smallholder farmers.
The regional line agency shared that in 2014, the association began clustered coffee farming by collecting their member's harvests to achieve a higher coffee volume to trade.
Through this approach, the association lessened the transport and transaction costs and improved the member's income, it added.
The DA, along with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) of Negros Occidental, provided the association with advanced technologies through training programs.
The agency also allowed them to participate in national summits and expositions, and supported the organization with post-harvest facilities that upgraded their coffee quality.
M3CG Board of Director Teddy Cañete, in a statement, said joining the cluster favored them as it helped the members improve farming practices and became more financially stable.
Cañete said it led the way for them to have access to institutional market and production linkages, technical and financial support and production inputs from the different government agencies such as the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental and private institutions.
For years, he said, the members reckoned on the trader's rate for their coffee products considering they are incapable of producing quality coffee, and they only rely on conventional farming management.
"It took years for us to produce good quality coffee beans. Throughout our start-up years, the DA continued to provide mentoring to the organization that paved the way for us to grow and strengthen our capabilities," the association official added.
The OPA, for its part, supervised the association's path towards value-adding pursuits.
They are encouraged to innovate their products and the prospect of putting up a coffee shop in the area in the future.
The M3CG is a recipient of different farm machinery and post-harvest facilities from DA, such as pruning shears, handsaw, fermentation box, grinder, depulper, solar dryer, and roasting machine that advanced their coffee processing project.
Last year, they received their roasting machine from the DA, which improved the quality of roasted coffee products.
The agency said aside from saving time from sweating to roast the coffee beans, it also benefited other members as they even started to venture in value-adding their coffee berries.
Since the members are leveling up towards entrepreneurship, through DA's assistance, they hope to acquire additional tools and equipment to establish its Coffee Processing and Packaging Center, which is compliant to the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) standards to promote their enterprise.
With the organization's perseverance to achieve quality coffee, the M3CG has excelled among the highest-grade Robusta variety recognized by the country's coffee Q-graders during the cupping match in the 2018 National Coffee Expo held in Baguio City.
"By allowing our coffee growers and cooperators to join in cupping competitions is one way of introducing our coffee not only to the local market but for global prospects. This way, we can also gauge the quality of coffee produced," DA Regional Coffee Coordinator Jairus Sirue said.
Moreover, achieving recognition as one of the top-graded Robusta coffee is the beginning of a more significant challenge for the association.
Association members keep the passion for producing and ensuring their coffee quality because there is a guaranteed market for their products and assurance of the DA's support in all their endeavors.
Cañete said at an average production of 500 kilograms per hectare of coffee, members can receive around P80,000 for sorted GCB and P150,000 to P300,000 for ground Robusta, Liberica and Excelsa.
"We also strive to get higher earnings given the support we receive from the DA," he said.
For five years now, the M3CG has partnered with Coffee Culture Roastery Shop in Bacolod City, who bought their green coffee beans at P160 per kilo of sorted Robusta coffee, and P250 for one kilo of Liberica and Excelsa.
Presently, the association continuously seeks better opportunities, and they are leaning on with the DA's support for Minoyan coffee to progress in the industry. (With reports from DA-Western Visayas)