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Agriculture

Cordillera farmers learn how to grow organic coffee

- Rose Dela Cruz -

Three years after the coffee farmers of the Kalinga and Ifugao who participated in the Central Cordillera Agricultural Program (CECAP) of the European Union were taught about organic growing farm practices by the Figaro Foundation organic coffee experts, they are now on the way of getting organic certification, which would virtually open wide the global organic market to them.

The CECAP farmers were organized by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) of the Department of Agriculture and were trained the organic way by the Figaro Foundation under Pacita Juan.

ACPC executive director Mel Montenegro tapped the market expertise of Juan, who is also an active member of the Philippine Coffee Board, to look for market solutions for the Cordillera-grown coffee.

In March 2004, Montenegro and Juan trekked to the far-flung coffee areas in Kalinga and Ifugao and started their coffee crusade by holding coffee workshops under the canopies of rainforests and introduced organic coffee production to the cultural communities.

In 2005, Figaro Foundation started to buy coffee from these communities first and later to the adjoining communities as well. Using the four-wheel Land Rover of CECAP, Montenegros introduced Juan and the Figaro team to the communities in Lagawe, Kiangan in Ifugao; Dupligan and Tanudan, among others, in Kalinga.

Today these cooperatives are enrolled in the Figaro Organic Certification Program and get a premium for their shade-grown and bird-friendly coffee aside from other value adding qualities which farmers never knew of.

Now they get a good price for their produce, enough to encourage them to sustain their production.

With an organic certification, the farmers will have an international seal attesting the export worthiness of their coffee and other organic products grown side by side with coffee such as carrots, pepper and other cash crops that they can harvest weekly while waiting to harvest the organic coffee, said Juan.

The ACPC continues to help Figaro Foundation in looking for other communities they have organized and eventually encourage them to follow the Ifugao and Kalinga models of sustainable agriculture, Juan added.

AGRICULTURAL CREDIT POLICY COUNCIL

CENTRAL CORDILLERA AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM

COFFEE

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

FIGARO FOUNDATION

KALINGA AND IFUGAO

ORGANIC

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