Malungon, Sarangani – In Sarangani, coffee farmers get low prices for their produce, which is often compounded by limited market access. Hence, many farmers neglect or abandon coffee trees in favor of other cash crops.
USAID, through its Safe Water Project and in collaboration with PhilCafe, Sarangani Coffee Council, and local governments, trained 25 coffee mentors in Good Agricultural Practices on coffee cultivation. They were expected to cascade their learning to many more coffee farmers. The plan was for each mentor to train at least 20 farmers, to quickly foster sustainable coffee production. To date, the eight mentors in Malungon have already trained 220 coffee farmers. Farmers expressed enthusiasm and commitment to implementing these practices, which would enhance their livelihoods and contribute to the conservation of Sarangani's watersheds.
Adeliano Pagalangan, a farmer and pastor in Upper Lumabat, said, "All my life, I know coffee is a tall tree, but it was through this training that I acquired new learnings about coffee (referring to technique of constantly pruning to increase its productivity) that I intend to practice immediately."
Ruel dela Cerna, a farmer and barangay kagawad of Datal Bila, remarked, "With these new learnings, I will start planting coffee by following good farming practices, making coffee a priority commodity in my farm."
Zaldy Magantor, a farmer and barangay kagawad of Malalag Cogon, noted, "With this training, I am now convinced that the price of Php 300 per kilo is very possible when good coffee farming practices are followed and applied."
Through training on good agricultural practices for coffee, USAID not only supports the growth of the coffee industry, but also enables farmers to earn higher incomes from quality beans. Additionally, this initiative discourages cultivation of new areas by farmers; thus, it conserves vegetative cover, and relatedly, preserves Sarangani's watersheds and water resources. (USAID/ Kent Tangcalagan)