News Feature: Coffee perks up ARBs' life

piaThe almost half-a-decade of coffee-growing by the farmers in Brgy. Kahayagan, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur is now paying off as they are about to launch in the market the newest excellent-tasting robusta coffee.

1965 when they started to grow coffee in a forest reserve area owned by Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP). And in 2010, DAR distributed the area covering 2,772 hectares.

Realizing the importance of collective bargaining, 140 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) formed the now Mabuhay-Kahayagn Coffee Growers Cooperative (MKCGC).

But for these poor farmers, running the cooperative was not easy most especially when coffee growing came to a halt brought about by the low buying price of fresh berries.

With continuous guidance from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the organization is encouraged to just plant more and utilize the land hardly fought for them. Until Nestle, became the organizations valued buyer. Nestle provided the organization with quality variety of coffee and several planting and growing trainings while DAR developed the organizations maturity with various capability-building trainings. The business went on good with Nestle using the world market’s fair price while other government agencies provided facilities like all-weather dryer.

Under the common service facilities component of the Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (ARCCESS) project of DAR, MKCGC received one unit flatbed drier and sprayer all worth P1.4 million. The dryer is expected encouraged the farmer’s expansion in coffee farms as it can cater bigger volume than that of the present facility. Although last year, MKCGC is 281 tons short of the 400 tons per year requirement of Nestle.

But MKCGC could not just stop as supplier to Nestle. With a special arrangement, Nestle allowed the use of five percent to ten percent of the farmers harvest for their own product. And with the business development service component of DAR-ARCCESS, MKCGC was trained in roasting, grinding and packaging which gave birth to another business opportunity for the cooperative -- the Tagbina Robusta Coffee.

While waiting for the approval of the other facilities from the ARCCESS’s common service facilities (CSF) component like roaster and grinder, MKCGC, in pursuit of bringing their product closer to the market, tapped outsource services, but continues to hope for the soonest approval of the facilities and the take off of the DAR-IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) Project ConVERGE or Convergence on Value Chain-Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment for the packaging enhancement.

The Tagbina Robusta Coffee, which will soon be launched in the market, will not only provide our coffee time with new aroma but also perks a new hope of success for the Tagbina coffee farmers. (DAR-Caraga/PIA-Caraga)