Cordillera coffee industry calls for development, sustainability

Published by reposted only Date posted on December 27, 2009

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet: In an effort to strengthen the coffee industry in the Cordillera Region considering natives here are coffee lovers, some concern sectors are pushing for its development and the need for its sustainability. Brewed coffee as they say is good source of anti-oxidants, it also warm human bodies especially now that December breeze or the “Baguio Chill” is being experienced brought about by the cold temperature (10.9 degrees in early morning and late afternoon). The popular Arabica coffee, a premium coffee characterized by its good aroma and flavor, is greatly in demand here and abroad.

Details gathered from the Philippine Information Agency office here said that coffee growing has been a way of life for the Cordillerans. Coupled with its environmental impact, it has a great economic potential.

Coffee lovers and experts have been claiming that Cordillera region should be named as the “Arabica coffee capital of the country.” The province has an edge over other provinces because of its upland climatic conditions and good soil conducive to growing Arabica coffee.

From the viewpoint of the private sector, Gerry Lab-oyan, chairman of the Cordillera Regional Arabica Coffee Council saw the value of coffee, which he said should be protected and propagated.

“We should become guardians of old trees as these are the sources of parent materials,” he said adding that the council is there to protect growers. Coffee growing has been a practice in the province two centuries ago, Lab-oyan said.

Coordinator for the Northern Luzon National Coffee Development Board (NLCDB) Emmanuel Torrejon said the Arabica coffee has a niche for marketing abroad but admitted that it could not even supply the demand locally and the country is still importing.

With this status of the industry, NLCDB is helping local producers to elevate and increase production in existing farms through the distribution of organic fertilizers.

They are also doing rehabilitation and rejuvenating poorly maintained coffee farms in Benguet, Mountain Province and Kalinga.

Torrejon said if their budget allows, they also plan to help in increasing plantation areas and help in augmenting post harvest facilities to improve quality of products.

Meanwhile, Valentino Macanes, director of the Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agro-Forestry of the Benguet State University informed that the school is into research, development and extension. “We do agro-forestry technology in rejuvenating planting materials,” he said.

As it helps in arresting soil erosion, Arabica coffee could also grow under the sayote plantation, he added.

The university acquired an international organic certification as producer and processor of organic Arabica coffee, currently the first and only in the country according to Macanes.

The Regional Development Council-CAR provided fund under the Special Autonomy Fund amounting to P1 million for the Department of Agriculture to pump prime the development of the coffee industry.

Among the accomplishments of the Agriculture department according to Regional Director Cesar Rodriguez, were distribution of materials for coffee-based nurseries, conduct of trainings and support for the formation of councils.

Acting Regional Development Council Chairman and National Economic Development Authority Regional Director Juan Ngalob believes that there is a need to develop and sustain coffee, a high value crop, because it is environment friendly, has financial and economic potentials unlike the vegetable industry, which has internal and external threats. –THOM F. PICAÑA CORRESPONDENT, Manila Times

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