I must confess, I am not a coffee lover, but after sipping a cup of brewed coffee, I have to admit, I liked it. It really taste good.
What I had is made from all-natural, organic arabica coffee from the Mountain Province.
Arabica coffee, by itself, is one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world. It is abundant in mountainous areas, believed to first abundant in Ethiopia. It has lesser bitter taste, compared to the commercially available robusta and liberica.
Fortunately, in the Philippines, arabica grows easily in the Northern Luzon region, particularly in the Mountain Province. Like in Sagada, many farmers grow arabica right in their backyard.
One visit in farm owned by Osenio Lay-os in Sagada, showed a very good potential of bigger opportunity for coffee farmers. Mr. Lay-os who grows arabica coffee organically may be in the right track of things.
Arabica coffee alone is expensive already. What more if it is organically grown? Kaching-kaching! Big cash probably with the right volume and market.
However, Osenio said that what he can only produce is for local consumption only. Since the demand for coffee within Sagada alone cannot be supplied by local farmers.
Osenio explained that it is not easy to be certified as a real organic producer. Like him, who is just a few steps away from being formally being called an organic producer, he said, it is not that easy.
Since, it takes at least two years of tedious processes and requirements before a farm can even be certified to be producing organic crops. The place alone is a great big deal before you can even proceed to the other steps.
A lot of farms in the Philippines have been, for the longest time, using chemicals as fertilizers, one who applies to be certified as organic may have to hurdle big steps. Using organic fertilizers and methods alone cannot be a guarantee, since the farm itself maybe a big burden.
Your farm needs to be a certain distance away, called “buffer” zone, to ensure that your organically grown crops may be safe and away from other farms that might be using chemicals.
Fortunate for Osenio Lay-os, that he is beyond the would-be affected zone of nearby farms using chemicals.
Mr. Lay-os admits that by being an organic farmer himself, it has influenced nearby farmers to do the same as well. Probably seeing Osenio’s results made other farmers to follow him as well.
Osenio admitted that though coffees may be a seasonal crop, yet, if grown properly, it can be very beneficial for a farmer. Especially in his case that he grows the pricier arabica coffees.
Plus, Osenio also reaps from his other crops within his farm. He managed to do multi-cropping in his lot so that he is not tied-up to just one produce as source of income and food.
Aside from coffee, the whole effective farm area of Osenio has different fruit-bearing trees, vegetables and grains – making his whole farm a sustainable source of organic produce for him, his family and for his trade.
Though, his harvest is still very limited and can only serve local consumers, he still hopes for more produce in the coming years. Plus, with an aggregate coffee beans, together with the harvest from nearby farmers, they can make it big as a whole.
The Sagada local government is looking into arabica coffees for the town to be one of the main attractions for business and tourism for them. The local government recently built a government-funded coffee facility where farmers can process their coffee beans for more value.
Sagada local officials said that they will be advocating for other farmers as well to grow organic arabica coffee. They hope that this could start something big for their local farmers. Since Sagada has the right weather, soil and farmers to produce arabica coffees.
Osenio explained that the beauty in organic farming is that you do not need to worry on how to grow your crops. You just have to apply the right knowledge and nature will do the rest to produce the best harvest. Plus, he doesn’t have to be worried on the effects on him and his family, since organic farming has no bad side effects compared to chemical fertilizers.
Osenio’s farm is also used as an example for other coffee farmers who may want to produce coffees organically.
Mr. Lay-os is just one of many farmers now who are using organic methods to produce their crops. A good example for other farmers, not just in Sagada and the Mountain Province, but for the rest of the Philippine farmers.
The Department of Agriculture, with one of its key agencies, ATI, is making a high impact on farmers helping them to switch to organic farming. A good opportunity for farmers to earn money and save lives as well – not just their own and their families, but also the consuming public.
With more farmers growing organic crops, the consuming public may expect more healthy food on their plates and farmers can be assured of better profit in a natural way.
I wouldn’t mind sipping on another hot cup of organic coffee, especially, if it is arabica.
Let’s drink to that, I guess.
How about you, would you prefer sipping an organically grown coffee?
RESOURCES’ CONTACT INFO:
For more information about organically growing arabica coffee or you want to learn organic agriculture, you may contact the Agricultural Training Institute at:
1800-10-982AGRI (or 1800-10-9822474) – for provincial toll-free calls
02-982-AGRI (or 982-2474) – for Metro Manila
0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474) for mobile calls
391DA (or 391-32) for Smart and Talk ‘N Text subscribers
0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474) for Globe, TM and Sun Cellular subscribers