DAVAO DEL SUR – The  five coffee farmers from Davao del Sur who won big in the prestigious Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC) 2021 under the Best Philippine-Origin Arabica Coffee category have expressed their gratitude to the government after the success they reaped recently. 

Marites Arellano snatched the top spot, while Lendilou Flores Loon, Justine Mae Dubria, Marifel dela Cerna placed second, third and fourth respectively, and Maria Luz Dubria placed sixty. They bested all the 103 coffee growers who submitted their entries this year.

At the same time, Arellano and dela Cerna were also given special awards for having the Best Arabica Natural Process and Honey Process.

The pride of the region’s coffee industry are from Sitio Balutakay, Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. The place is 1,200 meters above sea level which accordingly has contributed to their best-tasting coffee. 

While the area is 45 kilometers away from Digos City, and 25 kilometers from the town of Bansalan, the government agencies made sure to offer the necessary assistance to the farmers. The road going to the farms is one challenging journey, especially during a heavy downpour. Apart from being steep, the entire road is also slippery and muddy which makes it more difficult to reach the barangay. Nevertheless, the coffee farmers in the area have seen the government’s efforts just to provide them the essential package of assistance.   

PCQC 2021 topnotcher Arellano expressed her gratitude to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other government agencies who helped her and other coffee farmers of Balutakay Coffee Farmers’ Association (BACOFA).

“We are grateful to DTI, DA (Department of Agriculture) and other government agencies who assisted us in terms of machineries, equipment, trainings and other interventions,” Arellano said. 

“All of you played a big role in our success. With your collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance). You have molded and developed our mindset to adopt new technologies, become entrepreneurial and produce specialty or high quality coffee beans as we pursue economic prosperity for every coffee farmer,” she added.

Arellano encouraged other coffee farmers to continue striving for excellence and assured them that their own time to shine will come.

“We have to bear in mind that success comes with sacrifice, patience, hard work, integrity and above all, love. Love your work and industry. When we do all these, surely we will reap the fruits of our labor and let us do all these for the glory of our Almighty Father,” she shared. 

On the other hand, Loon of Sergio Loon Farms recently graduated from the Kapatid Mentor ME Program. The Rural Agro-Industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development (RAPID) Growth project also actively supports Loon in the crafting of her business model canvas and business plan that she intends to use in joining the DA’s Kabataang Agribiz – Young Farmers Challenge, a competitive financial grant assistance program for the youth who will engage in agri-based enterprises.

Arellano, both Justine and Maria Luz Dubria, and Dela Cerna are members of the BACOFA which has received various interventions from DTI.

Under the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, the BACOFA Cooperative has received coffee processing facility and coffee drying facility amounting to approximately P850,000.

They are enrolled as well in the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Next Gen program where they are given marketing assistance. Moreover, the cooperative was also engaged by the RAPID Growth Project as an anchor firm for the coffee chain in Davao del Sur where various assistance were given including business linking, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) consultancy, among others.

DTI-Davao del Sur Officer-In-Charge (OIC)-Provincial Director Maria Victoria R. Placer assured the farmers in their area of jurisdiction that the agency will continue to address the needed interventions, especially with the RAPID Growth project, which has identified coffee as one of its priority industry clusters.

“The recent feat of our coffee farmers in Davao del Sur greatly inspires us in DTI to continue working harder to increase the competitiveness of our MSMEs including our coffee producers so they could increase their income and eventually improve their lives and help their communities,” Placer said.

In the micro-lot auction conducted last 26 June 2021, the PCQC-recognized coffee farmers had sold their coffee beans to a hefty total of USD21,664.80 or approximately P1 million, with Arellano’s coffee beans topping the list at a closing price of USD52.20 per kilogram. 

The PCQC is an annual nationwide competition organized by DTI together with DA, ACDI/VOCA, the Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA), and the Coffee Quality Institute. It is meant to assess and promote locally produced coffee to a bigger market, as well as improve local coffee production in the country through consultations and capacity-building activities.

It likewise seeks to promote and improve competitiveness, resulting to enhanced quality standards, new markets and higher farm gate prices for coffee producers. ♦

Date of Release: 22 July 2021