Ashfall eats into the pulp and burns into the fruit cover of the cherries.
Amadeo will rise from the ashfall
Chit Juan (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mang Abner was able to get some coffee fruits before the ashfall. But after Jan. 12 he does not know if his trees will continue to fruit as leaves have fallen. Though there are flowers, the trees have no leaves to gather the sunlight for photosynthesis.

Other farmers have strip-picked what cherries (coffee fruits are called cherries) or  fruits were left, because their hired hands have no time to pick only the red ones. This will mean a substandard quality of coffee, instead of the usual “pick red” process where farmers or pickers go back to the tree several times during harvest season.

The farmers are aging, and the trees are getting old, too. There are no children to pick up the business as most have gone to work abroad as seafarers or as baristas. The other farmers have no choice but to sell their coffee lands.

“It’s very depressing for many coffee farmer-land owners,” says former Amadeo councilor Rene Tongson.

“They have to be  encouraged to go back to planting and harvesting coffee because Amadeo is known as the Coffee Capital of the Philippines,” he continues.

The Barako, a favorite variety in Cavite and Batangas, is in danger of becoming hard to find if other areas will not start planting this now sought after jackfruit-tasting specialty coffee. So the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) plans to distribute seeds to different parts of the country through its network in Basilan, Bukidnon, Kalinga and Ilocos. There are also about 15,000 seedlings available for other farms in Region 4 or Calabarzon to replant what trees were either felled, died or simply will no longer be productive.

But there is hope.

Cavite is rising up to the challenge. The PCBI will start a coffee museum with Amadeo’s local government, hopefully including a nursery for the Barako and Robusta varieties. The provincial government donated a piece of land which will house the museum, a coffee school and a nursery for planting materials.

In the meantime, plans are afoot to disperse the seeds, seedlings and make sure that Amadeo, Cavite and parts of Batangas will again be the center for coffee in these parts. With or without ashfall.         

MANG ABNER PCBI
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