Ensure sustainable prod’n, Murcia coffee farmers told

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BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA

*DA-6 photo

The Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas is urging coffee growers in Murcia town, Negros Occidental to ensure a sustainable production.

They were told to not only limit to manufacturing but expanding it into an enterprise, such as add-on value to their coffee products, to increase revenue.

The Minoyan Murcia Marginal Coffee Growers, composed of 56 smallholder farmers, began in 2014 a clustered coffee farming by collecting their members’ harvests to achieve a higher coffee volume that can be traded. Through this approach, the association lessened the transport and transaction costs and improved the income of members.

This also led to access to institutional market and production linkages, technical and financial support, and production inputs from different government agencies.

The DA Region 6, in a press release, said the department, along with the Provincial Agriculture Office of Negros Occidental, provided the association with training, allowed them to participate in national summits and expositions, and supported the organization with post-harvest facilities that upgraded their coffee quality.

Now, the Minoyan farmers employed best practices, such as adopting the latest technologies that improve coffee quality. They observed the proper gap in planting seedlings, rejuvenating their old coffee trees making those productive, and practiced selective hand-picking of ripe coffee berries during harvest, Teddy Cañete, M3CG board of director, said.

Marjoe Balinas, Negros provincial coffee coordinator, said that the OPA and the Department of Trade and Industry are encouraging the M3CG to innovate their products. There is also a plan to establish a coffee shop in the area in the future.

The M3CG is a recipient of different farm machinery and post-harvest facilities from the DA, such as pruning shears, handsaw, fermentation box, grinder, depulper, solar dryer, and roasting machine that advanced their coffee processing project.

Since the members are leveling up towards entrepreneurship, and through the DA’s assistance, they hope to acquire additional tools and equipment from the agency to establish a coffee processing and packaging center.

The M3CG has excelled in the highest-grade Robusta variety, and was recognized by the country’s coffee Q-graders during the cupping match in the 2018 National Coffee Expo held in Baguio City.

“Allowing our coffee growers and cooperators to join in cupping competitions is one way of introducing our coffee not only to the local market but for global prospects. This way, we can also gauge the quality of the coffee produced,” Jairus Sirue, DA-6 regional coffee coordinator, said.*

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