February 16, 2011
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — In a generation characterized by automation and instantly produced goods, the best items might still be those made and enjoyed with a little patience.
“There was a time when the Philippines was the third top producer of coffee internationally,” said Pierre Yves Cote, president of Rocky Mountain Cafe, Inc.
“It now only ranks 76th because the local industry has turned to instant coffee and Robusta,” he said.
“We want to revitalize the coffee industry with Arabica where farmers can get thrice the income they would get from Robusta.”
The Canadian brand Rocky Mountain Cafe was launched here last week with Brew Brothers Coffee Services, Inc. as its franchise holder.
Partnering with Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan through its Research and Social Outreach Cluster, Rocky Mountain aims to change traditional ways of the local coffee industry from the coffee plantations down to the marketing details of the business.
“So far, we have only partnered with two academic institutions, Xavier University and Benguet State University,” said Mr. Cote. “We will be getting professionals to train the farmers in farm management and coffee mill processing because we want to depart from backyard coffee farming. At the same time, we also want to promote this kind of social entrepreneurship to the students,” he said.
Xavier Universityâ€™s Cafe Ateneo is one of among 30 target sites for Rocky Mountainâ€™s franchise in the country. Hilly Ann R. Quiaoit of the universityâ€™s research outreach program expressed gratitude for this venue to further the clusterâ€™s thrust on food security.
Rocky Mountain aims to plant one million coffee trees in 10 provinces throughout the country in the coming years.
The company has partnered with indigenous peoplesâ€™ communities including the Ibalois in Benguet in the Cordillera, the Tâ€™bolis in Sarangani in southcentral Mindanao and the Higaonons in Bukidnon here in Northern Mindanao, for the farm development.
The planned coffee complex includes a nursery, an ecological coffee mill, a training center on Arabica production and processing, and satellite farms of individual coffee growers.
“We want to turn Bukidnon into a production basket of coffee with Cagayan de Oro as the market,” said Mr. Cote.
Bukidnon is Northern Mindanaoâ€™s top coffee producer with roughly 5,000 tons produced in 2007 according to the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture.
The province is also suitable for growing Arabica coffee due to its comparatively high altitude and temperature.
“We estimate to get five to six kilograms of Arabica coffee per tree [from Bukidnon plantations].
“Right now, there is no real processing of coffee so to increase the productivity of the farmers we are establishing the plantations with the coffee processing mills.”
Labor-intensive processes such as land clearing, soil preparation, application of farm inputs, planting, weeding, harvesting, drying, pulping, washing, grading and sorting will be done by the coffee farming communities.
The Arabica coffee of Rocky Mountain follows international standards, with humidity of the beans controlled at 9%-12%. The beans are also sorted by size and are roasted weekly to guarantee freshness. — Louise G. Dumas