As we sip a cup of our favorite coffee in the morning or while we are working, did it ever cross your mind how coffees are prepared before making their way to coffee shops or sachets of instant coffee mixes?
Well, Iba ‘Yan gave us a glimpse of the inspiring lives of some of our coffee farmers and the challenges they go through in keeping this withering industry in our country alive in its latest episode last Sunday, April 19.
Back in the 1880’s, Philippines was in fact the fourth biggest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. But in the past 10 years, our coffee production has completely declined as we’re only able to contribute less than one percent in the global coffee trade according to statistics. Let us know more about the situation of our dedicated coffee farmers who continuously work hard just so we could have coffee in our homes.
Angel Locsin had the chance to talk to Eduardo Rubio, the president of Kaylaway Farmers, Inc., an association of coffee farmers in Nasugbu, Batangas that aims to develop the coffee production industry in the said municipality and rehabilitate the Ardiano Garcia Coffee Plantation after it was neglected by its former administrator. Although Batangas has been a famous coffee producer, their organization was only established three years ago.
He admitted that the primary problem they encounter is the lack of equipment and fertilizers, and hopes to also have their own coffee processing machine so that they can also directly market their produce.
As the Iba ‘Yan team asked him to show how they harvest the coffee beans, the host got to meet one of the Kaylaway farmers, Manolito “Manny” Vida, who’s been a coffee farmer for 35 years already. He imparted how the pandemic has terribly affected them after their buyers diminished due to problems in transportation and they were forced to sell the coffee at a much lower price.
Manny is very proud to be a coffee farmer, most especially because his work became the main source of livelihood for his family and he is also able to send his children to school. In fact, his eldest has already graduated, while his other son is now a sophomore at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, taking up forestry engineering.
That’s why Iba ‘Yan gave him a laptop for his son in college and groceries and vitamins for his whole family. He also received a safety kit and farming tools that he’s going to share with his fellow farmers.
Angel then met another coffee farmer, Gina Rolle, who’s been in the industry for two decades already. She’s actually from Oriental Mindoro and only transferred to Batangas because of her husband. Even though both of them are working, she disclosed that their income from selling coffee for the whole year is still not enough to provide the needs of their family. Thus, in order to make both ends meet, she sells halo-halo, shake, and fish balls every summer.
Although they’ve been doing it for a long time, coffee farming has been hard and challenging for them because they don’t have enough planting equipment and materials, as well as fertilizers. Thus, she’s thankful for the Kaylaway Farmers, Inc. for consistently assisting them.
In order to help Gina and her family, Iba ‘Yan gave her additional capital for her small business, as well as groceries and vitamins, farming tools, and safety kit.
Lastly, Angel also met the youngest coffee farmer and one of the newest members of the association, Michael John Manalo. After finishing college, he was able to work for five years at a real estate company in Batangas. He decided to change his career path and was supposed to work abroad in hopes of earning more and providing a better future for his family. But the pandemic hindered him, so he just focused on cultivating the piece of land he inherited from his grandparents.
According to him, he’s very grateful for the opportunity given to him by Manny and the whole association as he was able to plant 800 coffee trees in his newly-established farm. He’s also very happy that his family is very supportive of him and even helps him in taking good care of their farm. He is hoping to be able to build his own coffee brand and the coffee farming in the country to thrive again.
In order to help and support Michael, Iba ‘Yan gave him safety kit, gardening and farming tools, and groceries and vitamins, as well as surprised him with a basketball jersey of his favorite NBA team Los Angeles Lakers and a pair of rubber shoes for his daughter.
Angel wrapped up her hearty conversation with them by having a toast and drinking freshly-roasted coffee and telling Eduardo, Manny, Gina, and Michael about more good news.
Iba ‘Yan coordinated with the Department of Agriculture and the Municipal Agriculture office of Nasugbu to provide Kaylaway Farmers Association organic fertilizers and coffee seeds and connect them to different associations and coffee buyers. A well-known coffee company offers coffee production training for them and additional farming toolkits in order to help enhance their coffee production. Their wish of having their own coffee milling machine was granted as well.
It’s indeed such a sad realization that despite the burgeoning number of coffee shops in the country in the recent years, our hardworking and passionate coffee farmers actually receive less. Thus, we may not be able to help them in what they do in the field, but at least showing our support by buying their produce is actually already a great help for them.
We may always choose to patronize our local products, Kapamilya.