Thu, 03 Dec 2020

Handpicked berries, key to better priced farm coffee

Philippine Information Agency
26 Oct 2020, 20:38 GMT+10

CORTES, Bohol Oct. 25 (PIA) -- Coffee beans being sold in the market at an affordable cost can fetch a higher price if these are picked right.

Bohol Coffee Development Council focal person and Department of Trade and Industry trade specialist Blair Panong said their current direction is to ensure that farmers know how to make good quality out of the product so they can make up for the price.

BACK TO FOOD PRODUCTION. The Department of Agriculture and its line agencies like the ATI in Central Visayas has ventured into going back to farming and allowing peole to help in food security as well as generating cash crops including coffee and cacao. Here in Bohol, a development council for coffee and cacao have been convincing communities to venture into these crops which sell high in the international markets. (PIA Bohol)

Panong together with notable Boholano "Duke of Coffee," Duke Minoza, who owns the largest coffee plantation in Bohol, came to the "Kapihan sa Pagkapihan sa PIA" to discuss prospects of the coffee industry here.

"Ripe berries have to be handpicked one by one, making sure those not properly ripe yet are not touched as yet, or those with fungus are kept separated from good berries and burned to stop contaminating the good berries and the plantation," said Minoza, whose Cafe Nueva Vida from Buenaventurada Farms in Carmen is now becoming a premier local blend in most coffee shops here.

"Coffee industry in Bohol has been a century old and the Philippines is on the map where coffee could be grown," said Panong, adding that he could still recall market days then when people still trade sacks of coffee beans, one he could not see now.

For whatever reason the coffee trading was lost, many presumed it is because the buying price is so low.

A plant that is at home in forest floors as it thrives well under the shade, coffee is an ideal plant for multiple cropping, especially when planted together with cash crops, said Minoza, who has bananas and other easily convertible to cash crops as his plantation intercrops.

With good and proper nurture, coffee can already fruit by the third year.

It bears fruits between October to March, after which the trees can be pruned if only to make sure it does not grow so tall to cause harvesting issues, he said.

"Coffee is a commodity that is graded internationally," Minoza pointed out, explaining that one can only handpick the berries that are rightly ripe, leaving those about to turn bright red for the next day's harvest.

This is because putting in unripe beans with the ripe ones will affect the quality of the beans as a whole, and this is where the sour taste comes when the beans are dried processed and brewed.

In the Philippines, as with the coffee planted in the lower levels above sea level, Bohol coffee is mostly of the Robusta variety, a coffee with a stronger, harsher and more bitter taste, with grainy or rubbery overtones and packs a good caffeine content.

Arabica, which likes to grow in higher elevations, tends to have a smoother, sweeter taste, with hints of chocolate and sugar, fruits or berries.

Both Panong and Minoza explained that if only green berries are harvested with ripe berries, this does not get one a good coffee, and that could well be the basis for the low price.

On this, Panong said the DTI along with the Bohol Coffee Development Council has organized training seminars for farmers to gain technical information and skills in coffee growing, product conversion training to make local coffee supply sustainable even for the already growing Bohol cafe markets. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

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