by Chit Juan (The Ultimate Coffee Guide, March 2016)
“We used to see coffee trees all around these mountains,” she tells me in our pick up while we enter the areas of Ifugao, just a few towns from her hometown of Kasibu. Nestled between two mountain ranges in Eastern Northern Luzon, Kasibu was built by her father Bumolo, whose first name they adopted to be their family name. “Builder of Kasibu” is his monicker as he literally uncovered Kasibu after trekking one mountain after another, coming from his Ifugao birthplace.
Today, Juliet is the community leader who dreams of making Kasibu regain its lost glory. Kasibu used to be the coffee capital in these parts. A small third class municipality with cool weather and a lot of green forest and rice fields, it is ideal for coffee-growing, not just for Robusta but for the Arabica variety, too.
Juliet spoke with Nicky Matti about two years ago and she took his advice to start sowing seeds so her townmates can see coffee seedlings in no time. Today, Juliet Bumolo-Morales has an organic garden, a coffee seedling nursery, and two cooperatives who are perked up to plant coffee. We counted about 3,500 farmers in their list who can plant as much as two million coffee trees!
Further, Juliet has started rounding up her coffee farmer friends who in the early 2000s would wait for her arrival to buy their coffee production. “The market dropped and we only had Robusta then,” she recounts. “Today, we are shifting our farmers to Arabica because we have the elevation required for it anyway,” she declares. Coffee has bounced back and Juliet is also back in action.
While most of the farmers in Kasibu grow vegetables, many of them are now looking at planting coffee, too. “We used to have a lot of coffee,” a farmer recalls. Now, the PCBI, the Municipal Agriculturist and the DA-HVCDP are all helping out to bring back coffee production to the erstwhile coffee capital. “It may take a few years but we will get there,” says Juliet, the confident community leader . The two cooperatives were met by PCBI last February to assure them that the local market is looking for closer sources for good Arabica coffee.
Good elevation, perfect coffee weather and a driven passionate community leader spells guaranteed coffee production.