Issue of March 26, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Best coffee search helps boost farmers’ bean production
by Ofelia C, Empian

BEST COFFEE FARMER -- Coffee farmer Cristy Carame (3rd from left) of Barangay Shilan is this year’s best Bloom Crop of the Year awardee for her outstanding coffee crops and best tasting Arabica coffee. As the top awardee, she received P100,000 from Henry & Sons CEO Michael Harris Lim and DOT-CAR Director Marie Venus Tan, which she will use additional investment in her family’s coffee farm.  -- Ofelia Empian



Coffee farmer Cristy Carame did not expect that she would emerge as the best among  10 coffee farmers from La Trinidad to win P100,000 in the second staging of the “Bloom Crop of the Year” competition recently held at the capital town.

Carame, who tends to her family’s farm in Barangay Shilan wowed the judges, composed of coffee shop owners and business moguls with her coffee produce, adjudged as the best of the best from the municipality.

She said the cash prize would greatly help her and her family in buying implements such as water hose and tank that would lead to their one-hectare farm in Shilan.

Coffee farmer Joseph Carlos of Barangay Wangal was the champion in last year’s crop of the year inaugural competition. He bested seven participants.

Michael Harris Lim, president of the Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence (FSCE) and CEO of Henry & Sons, said farmers from all over La Trinidad were screened for the quality of their produce until 10 farmers were left.

The participants were then asked to submit one kilogram of green coffee beans to be used in a series of cupping sessions during the competition organized by FSCE.

Lim said the coffee beans were then judged based on traceability, taste, and presentation of their crop and their pledges.

“More than the cash prizes, the winners get a chance to build a relationship with companies who are eager to put a premium on the value of their passion and hard work,” Lim said.

He said they are hoping the competition would inspire more local coffee farmers to get into coffee production, adding the activity links coffee farmers and the country’s top coffee buyers, in the process developing the town’s potential in producing Arabica coffee, which can be a niche market.

“When we help them, they are helping us too. It’s a win-win solution,” Lim said.

Lim said their goal in Henry & Sons is to make 90 percent of their company’s total coffee beans come from local sources and only 10 percent from outside the country.

He said at the moment, the situation is  the other way around.

“We hope, someday, the Philippines would be known as a top exporter of coffee,” he said, adding that La Trinidad and other parts of Benguet can become a steady source of quality Arabica coffee. 

He said they plan to expand their projects in FSCE that would cover other Arabica coffee-producing towns of Benguet, with an elevation that is suitable for the optimal growth of Arabica coffee.

The Municipal Agriculture Office of La Trinidad reported the town produced 17, 267 metric tons of Arabica beans in 2015 from an estimate of 4,500 trees.

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