Promising opportunities await the two coffee farmers from Davao del Sur after winning the first two top spots in the Arabica Category of the recently concluded Philippine Coffee Quality Council (PCQC) 2022 competition. 

During the PCQC 2022 Awarding Ceremony last March 18 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City, Marifel dela Cerna and Cherry Gil Cabanday  took home the top 1 and top 2 awards, respectively. They bested all 45 entries submitted from all over the country under the Arabica Category. Dela Cerna garnered an average score of 84.79, while Cabanday got 84.46. 

 COFFEE CHAMPIONS. PCQC 2022 – Arabica Category winners and finalists from Davao del Sur show off their hard-earned awards in a group photo with DTI 11 Assistant Regional Director Delia Ayano, DTI Davao del Sur OIC Provincial Director Maria Victoria Placer and Business Development Division OIC Chief Sarry Kinoc, Jr.
COFFEE CHAMPIONS. PCQC 2022 – Arabica Category winners and finalists from Davao del Sur show off their hard-earned awards in a group photo with DTI 11 Assistant Regional Director Delia Ayano, DTI Davao del Sur OIC Provincial Director Maria Victoria Placer and Business Development Division OIC Chief Sarry Kinoc, Jr.

Dela Cerna now joins the ranks of two of Davao del Sur’s pride in the coffee industry, who were also declared champions in the same category in the past years. Marites Arellano dominated the 2021 tilt, while Marivic Dubria topped in 2019.  

Apart from being the topnotcher in the Arabica Category this year, Dela Cerna also got the special award on the Best Arabica Coffee – Natural Process. 

PCQC 2022 Auction 

The awarding ceremony is not the end of celebrations for the PCQC winners as the winning entries, finalists and their green coffee bean submissions (i.e. at least 120 kilograms per coffee farmer) will be subject to a micro-lot auction open to local and international bidders. 

The auction this year will be held online on 23 April 2022 at 8 p.m. (Philippine Standard Time). 

Last year’s PCQC auction fetched a big number of participants and record-breaking prices with Arellano’s coffee beans topping the list at a closing price of USD 52.20 per kilogram or almost PHP500,000. In total, the Davao del Sur coffee farmers raked in a hefty USD 21,664.80, or approximately Php1 million. 

The same outstanding results are nonetheless expected for this year’s auction. 

New markets 

After winning in 2019 and 2021, Dubria and Arellano have become overnight celebrities in the coffee industry and received numerous invitations to radio, television and online shows. They also received various commendations from local government units, national government agencies, among others. Needless to say, they have become the face of specialty Arabica coffee. 

But aside from the fame, both farmers and their organization, the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Agricultural Cooperative (BACOFA COOP), have captured the attention of local and international coffee enthusiasts. 

This recognition, accordingly, resulted to an increased demand for their coffee produce and as a result, increased the income of the cooperative and its members. 

In 2021, The BACOFA Coop generated approximately Php5-6 million in total sales. 

Change in culture 

Another impact of the PCQC is the change in the mindset and attitude among coffee farmers in the community of Balutakay. The triumph of Dubria, Arellano and others have inspired the rest of the community to improve and maintain sustainable agricultural practices; and to embrace new knowledge and technology as it can improve their productivity, obtain better yields and increase their profit. 

And as the coffee industry is seen to be an industry that cultivates inclusivity and diversity, more women and young people are getting involved in developing and promoting coffee in Davao del Sur.  

Moreover, young coffee farmers, Jastine Mae Dubria of the BACOFA Coop and Lendilou Loon of Sergio Loon Farms were recognized at the PCQC 2022 awarding ceremony as Outstanding Young Coffee Farmer Awardees. 

“In my community, there are still a few young coffee farmers,” Loon said. “But I’d like to believe that we are the trailblazers and soon, more youth will follow our lead. May bukas sa agrikultura, may bukas sa kape.” 

“Especially when they see that our role as young farmers is very relevant and is highly valued by the society nowadays. I hope the government will provide more support, not just for adult coffee farmers, but also for young people who would like to go back to farming. We, too, can create ripples of positive impact in the coffee industry,” she added. 

Intensified government support 

Given all the increase in the demand of specialty coffee from Davao del Sur coffee farmers, various national government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry, has also stepped up in its interventions for the industry. 

“We have been intensely supporting our coffee farmers as we continue to develop and elevate the coffee industry in the province,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Davao del Sur OIC Provincial Director Maria Victoria Placer shared. 

“Through these interventions, we try to cover all their needs under our mandate ranging from capacity building, access to finance, access to technology, access to market, among others,” she added. 

Placer shared that BACOFA Coop, Bagobo-Tagabawa Farmers Association ni Managa (BATAFAMA), Tibolo Integrated Farmers Workers Association (TIFWA) and other farmer organizations who are primarily into coffee farming, are part of the RAPID Growth Project – a project anchored on the value chain approach which aims to stimulate agri-enterprise development through business development support services, access to market, technology financing, infrastructure, among others. 

Most of them are also beneficiaries of the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Project. Last February, BATAFAMA received the SSF on Coffee Processing amounting to PHP658,850. It includes a highly sophisticated and digital optical sorter machine, which will significantly improve their sorting capacity from 2 to 3 kilos sorted in a day to 200 kilos a day. 

Other interventions include mentoring and coaching through the Kapatid Mentor ME Program; branding, packaging and labeling assistance through the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Next Gen Program; the Industry Cluster Enhancement Program, among others. ♦

Date of Release: 6 April 2022