The Pinagdanlayan Farmers Association Inc. (PFAI) in Dolores, Quezon uses almost half a hectare of land to grow vegetables and crops since. But it’s their coffee trees—almost 1,000 of them—which shows most promise to rake in profit for the cooperative and its farmers. “We grow robusta and excelsa beans,” shares Emillie Bonquin, the secretary of PFAI.
According to farmer Fernando Cantos, they used to bring down their coffee cherries to the town proper incurring additional costs for dehulling, roasting, grinding and packaging, not to mention transportation costs leaving them with very slim margins. Sometimes, they would sell their cherries outright for just P10-12 per kilo to avoid the processing pains.
Early this year, the Pinagdanlayan Farmers Association Inc., with close to 75 farmer-members, was chosen to be one of the twenty-one partner beneficiaries of the Kape’t Buhay program of Globe Bridging Communities and Bote Central Inc., a social enterprise focused on using fair trade practices in the production of local coffee. The partnership introduces community roasting business units (CRBUs) or community roasting machines to upland and lowland coffee farmers nationwide enabling them to roast their own beans. With this value-added process, farmers earn more per kilo and are encouraged to capitalize on other earning opportunities all throughout the chain of coffee production.
The cooperative received their coffee roasting unit last March 2012. The machine has also allowed them to offer their roasting services to other coffee farmers in the vicinity. Says Cantos, “Mas malaki ang kita ngayon. Ang isang kilo ng roasted beans namin, umaabot ng P230 per kilo.”
After only three months into the program, the cooperative was able to set up a small outpost near the parish church where they sell roasted coffee beans by the kilo and brewed coffee by the cup. Sometimes, coffee sales reach up to P700 a day. Shares PFAI’s Noneth Abrenica who mans the cooperative’s Kapehan sa Bayan, “Locals have been buying our coffee, most of the time as gifts to balikbayans. Foreigners also buy our coffee. One German tourist even bought five kilos.” To augment their income from the stall, PFAI also sells bananas, potatoes, and other vegetables grown on their farm. They also serve cooked food to keep the stall busy with customers.