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Coffee farming strengthens Surigao community

A sense of community, solidarity and hope has bonded together the farmers of Barangay Kahayagan, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur, thanks to the lessons they learned and the benefits they reaped from coffee farming. This has spurred them to form their own cooperative, the Kahayagan Coffee Growers’ Association.

Before they formed their own cooperative, each coffee farmer basically worked his farm on his own – he faced his difficulties by himself and could only use whatever meager resources he had for the upkeep of his own farm and the improvement of his harvests.

Today, however, the coffee farmers of Barangay Kahayagan know they can rely on one another for their mutual benefit. They can all share in the blessings of the land by working together as a community, in the true spirit of Filipino bayanihan.

By pooling resources and sharing knowledge, the benefits they get are multiplied and received by all their families.

One example of how they harnessed their resources as a group is in the first ever project of their cooperative: They bought a dehuller machine after pooling their contributions.

A dehuller is a machine that is used to remove the outer layer/s from a coffee cherry. Once these outer layers are removed, the coffee bean is left. It is this coffee been that is then roasted, ground and brewed into coffee.

Without the dehulling process, it would be impossible for any coffee farmer to sell his harvest of coffee beans. Before the Kahayagan farmers bought their own dehuller, they had to rent one from another barangay – entailing more cost, time and effort.

Back then, Kahayagan farmers had to rent vehicles to transport their dried coffee beans to the next barangay, which is five kilometers away. Then they had to pay to rent the de-hulling machine there.

Since they bought their own dehulling machine, however, the farmers of Kahayagan have saved a lot in terms of time, energy and money. It is, in fact, the second harvest season that they are worry-free when it comes to hulling their dried coffee cherries.

Hope and change for the better came to Julio Budlayan and his fellow farmers in 2007 when they received free training on modern coffee farming from two agronomists from Nestlé.

Change through knowledge

Those agronomists were Jose F. Reano and Proceso M. Cortejos, both with 19 years experience in the field. It was Reano who made the initial training of Budlayan and his fellow farmers. Further training of the farmers in coffee growing was given later on by Cortejos.

Even though Budlayan and other Kahayagan farmers have been farming for decades, they were grateful when Reano and Cortejos conducted the free training seminar on coffee farm cultivation and maintenance. Reano and Cortejos each conducted their on-site trainings for two days.

“The lessons in modern coffee farming technology definitely make the difference,” says Budlayan. “More importantly, it shows we still have a lot to learn in coffee farming.”

Best of all, the knowledge that Budlayan and and other farmers gained from the training quickly made an impact in increasing the volume and quality of their harvests.

Bayanihan spirit

For years, farmers in Kahayagan and surrounding areas have grown rubber, copra and coffee. However, it was only the coffee farmers, after they received formal training from Reano and Cortejos, who decided to form their own cooperative.

The knowledge and training that Budlayan and the other farmers received had awakened their sense of community. They knew that only by working together is hope for a better future possible for them. If they could share knowledge and benefit from it, why, even more good things would be in store for them if they pooled their resources and their hard work.

“As late as it may seem, farmers in our barangay have realized we are much stronger when we are united. If ever there’s knowledge a farmer ought to know, we must learn it as a group. Walang iwanan sa kape. (All for one, one for all in coffee)” says Budlayan, who became the cooperative’s founding president in 2007.

Last July, the Kahayagan Coffee Growers Association’s first coffee harvest was memorable to all: They only had to pay two pesos each per sack of dried coffee cherries that they processed in their own dehulling machine. Part of the money saved will be used by the cooperative to build a small function hall for their meetings.

Second project: NEDF training

Budlayan and his fellow coffee farmers will put their bayanihan spirit to good use in another way: using part of this year’s first pick earnings, the Kahayagan farmers’ cooperative will send chosen members to train at the Nestlé Experimental and Demonstration Farm (NEDF) in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

The NEDF is a training facility that gives free lectures and hands-on training to farmers to further enhance their skills and practices. It is also an experimental farm, serving as a testing ground for new farming methods and technologies.

The lectures at the NEDF are conducted by well-trained agronomists that teach everything from coffee crop management – from the planting to the harvesting – to good soil management and cultivation; and down to the buying and selling of their raw materials.

Training may last from a few days to weeks, depending on time set aside by the farmers who attend.

Julio Budlayan is just one of the farmers who harvests your beautiful mornings with the 2010 Special Limited Edition NESCAFÉ Classic First Pick. Help our coffee farmers plant more firsts today. Starting January 2010, bring home a NESCAFÉ Classic First Pick and look for the jar’s unique code.

Log on to www.nescafe.com.ph/firstpick and key in the code to learn more about the journey of your coffee and to adopt a lil beanie online. This lil beanie also represents an actual coffee seedling that NESCAFÉ Classic First Pick will give on your behalf to a local coffee farming community.

Every NESCAFÉ Classic First Pick jar encoded entitles you to one online adoption. (muc,MB)

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