First and foremost on PhilMech’s agenda is training. To be specific, its mandate is to “generate, extend, and commercialize appropriate and problem-oriented agriculture and fishery postharvest and mechanization technologies”. It goes beyond uplifting by empowering the farmers to continue and improve their passion for farming.
The partnership of PhilMech and the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. (PCBI)—which was formalized in January 5, 2018—is a collaboration that’s focused on research and enterprise development for coffee. Among the great results of this partnership is the high ranking of three coffee farmers’ associations at the 2017 Kape Pilipino Green Coffee Quality Competition. The farmers’ groups are the Casile Guinting Upland Marketing Cooperative Inc. (Cabuyao, Laguna), the Sagada Arabica Coffee Growers and Producers Organization (Sagada, Mt. Province), and Tuba Benguet Coffee Growers Association (Tuba, Benguet).
The three top-ranked coffee organizations trained on proper postharvest practices at the farm level of operation. They were nurtured by PhilMech, in partnership with other agencies, to become inclusive businesses following the recommended postharvest system of producing quality green bean for Arabica and Robusta coffee.
What started with the Philippine Coffee Industry Road Map now generates and commercializes coffee technologies and systems. As PhilMech’s Dr. Helen Martinez explained: “This has addressed the needs of a large number of backyard and small coffee farmer producers to improve their productivity and have a place in the market. The recommended PH system consists of match of equipment like coffee pulpers, dryer, huller, moisture meter, sorting table and grading system suited for Arabica and Robusta coffee.”
The said system resulted in a reduction of broken beans to 2.73%, which was a significant improvement compared to 14.23%, using the traditional method. The production of better quality raw material is, of course, essential for value adding operations.
Community-based coffee processing enterprise models (CBCPE) were established to promote the adoption of the Philippine System for Arabica and Robusta in the country, found in strategic coffee producing areas.
Martinez added, “PhilMech, with the combined effort of the farmers and project partners, positions the farmers so that they can have greater access to information, technologies, and other resources such as equipment and material inputs. They are also encouraged to produce quality beans and engage in value adding services. The project has also influenced the key officials and players in the national, regional, and local governments by mainstreaming the project processes, approaches to their own planning, budgeting, and service delivery.”
The PhilMech-PCBI collaboration has helped align goals and nurture the key component in the coffee industry—the coffee farmers. “Aside from training, PhilMech conducted gaps and feasibility assessments on targeted farmer groups,” noted Martinez. This addressed the fact that the biggest challenge in producing quality green coffee beans is the active participation of the coffee farmers in coffee growing communities.
PhilMech works hand-in-hand with PCBI and other sectors in adopting a participatory approach in project implementation. With CBCPE models and with the coffee partnerships, the passion for coffee grows further.
Farmers undergo workshops and training on cupping quality, value formation, proper operation and management of machinery, as well as project planning and operationalization. They are taught about business action planning, financial literacy, market matching, and coffee exposition. Last but not least, the investment forum is explained to them.
“Coffee is one of the priority commodities of PhilMech. PhilMech’s coffee agenda is supportive of the coffee roadmap to enhance the postharvest, processing and marketing systems for the small coffee growers in the Philippines,” Martinez ended.
(Photos provided by PhilMech)