Coffee farmers in the municipalities of T’boli, Polomolok, and Tupi of South Cotabato province will soon be able to produce higher-quality coffee beans and improve their coffee production, thanks to the support of USAID’s Protect Wildlife project and its partners. Under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, the project implemented a technical support package consisting of training and catalytic investments in modern coffee technologies for four farmers’ associations within Allah Valley and Mount Matutum protected areas. The support package was designed to help farmers produce, harvest and process beans that meet market standards, thereby lowering reject rate of processed beans and maximizing the value of each harvest.
The project leveraged its outstanding working relationships with organizations here and abroad to support the farmers’ associations. In tandem with the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the project facilitated a learning session on proper coffee production practices and farm management, business models, and postharvest processing of Robusta coffee. PhilMech led an assessment of the farmers’ production areas and postharvest facilities and recommended corresponding upgrades.
Protect Wildlife also partnered with the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE) project, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to take advantage of its technical expertise and rapport with local farmers. PhilCAFE led a training of trainers in producing, harvesting, postharvest handling, and specialty coffee processing of Robusta and Arabica coffees based on good agricultural practices. Farmers were introduced to various postharvest tools and techniques such as coffee cupping to evaluate different characteristics of coffee bean.
To help ensure the sustainability of the farmers’ coffee enterprises, the project contemplates strengthening and expanding the associations’ private sector networks. PhilCAFE, for instance, would link the farmers to other groups and enterprises in the coffee industry to access new information on best practices of production, processing and marketing, and on potential buyers. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)