Friday, May 18, 2018

Php210 Million Assistance for Ilocos Tobacco Farmers

Filipino Tobacco Farmer

The Philippine Tobacco Industry is one of the pillars of Philippine agriculture. It is the crop where farmers of the Ilocos region largely depend upon. As such, the industry sector needs assistance in increasing its crop yield and production so as to sustain its viability and ensure the livelihood of the tobacco dependent agricultural sector.

Assistance worth Php210 million was provided by the National Tobacco Administration to tobacco farmers in Ilocos that will produce 6.5 million kilograms of cured tobacco. National production of tobacco is pegged at 45 million kilograms for this year and the assistance will account for 14% of that targeted national production volume.

Access to new technologies, extension programs, training and information, financial credit assistance and expedited payment of harvests will comprise part of the assistance. Of the Php 210 million, about Php115 million will be for land preparation, fertilizers and pesticides aside from suckerides.

The country posted earnings of US$344 million in tobacco exports last 2017. There are 8,331 tobacco farmers cultivating 5,143 hectares of tobacco farmlands under the contract growing system.

It is about time! Pension Plan for Farmers and Fishermen

The average age of the Filipino farmer is said to be 57 years old. That is 8 years away from the retirement age of most government and private sector workers. Unfortunately, the majority of Filipino workers are agricultural workers. They are farmers and fishermen that comprise 60% of the Philippine population that is located in rural areas.

Acknowledging this state of affairs, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is crafting and implementing a pension scheme for farmers and fishermen. According to DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) is planning a pension program that will benefit the agricultural sector.

“I have always emphasized that while government workers have the Government Service Insurance System and private company employees and self-employed workers have the Social Security System, farmers and fishermen are not covered by any pension fund,” Secretary Pinol said.

The PCIC is preparing a proposal of the pension fund to Congress so that legislation will be given with regards to the pension plan. It is initially called the Farmers and Fishermen’s Pension Fund (FFPF). This will enable farmers and fishermen to retire because of their advanced age.

Aside from a pension plan, health and accident insurance, crop insurance will also be part of the pension and insurance plan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Carrageenan as Fertilizer for Corn

Carrageenan has proven to be a versatile fertilizer or Plant Growth Provider (PGP). The first use for it was PGP for rice, then mungbeans and peanuts.

Now, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is conducting studies if carrageenan can also be used a PGP for corn farming.

Engineer Sancho Mabborang, DOST Region 2 director, stated that funding sourced from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Isabela provincial government and state universities and colleges in the region led by Isabela State University recently started the R&D project.

Success in using carrageenan as PGP will mean increased yield in corn farms in the region and can be replicated all over the country. This will mean a significant increase in the income of farmers.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute had developed the carrageenan PGP through a project also funded by PCAARRD. The PNRI had used its state-of-the-art electron beam facility in Diliman, Quezon City to irradiate carrageenan and come up with the plant food supplement.

Mabborang said that corn is the second most important national food crop after rice.

He pointed out that corn, particularly yellow corn, was the main component of up to 75 percent of formulated feed for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture fishery.

White corn, the variety for human consumption, is the staple food of up to 20 percent of the Philippine population, he said.

The Cagayan Valley region is the top producer of corn in the country and is now lobbying that it be the site of the center for research and development for corn.

According to Mabborang “If we can further increase our corn production, this will mean bigger profits for our corn farmers. And an adequate, if not a surplus supply of corn in the country can have a positive impact on the country’s livestock production.”

Local Goat Breeding Gets Boost

PH Goats getting "Milked"

Goats which are classified under small ruminants will get additional technical support from the Isabela State University (ISU).

Artificial Insemination (AI) will be the method employed but will be enhanced via the research and development (R&D) to be conducted by ISU.

This effort will be endowed with funding by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), the ISU’s Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC) will utilize advanced biotechnology to boost local goat breeding.

The program will have a funding of Php64 million via a grant from the PCAARRD that will draw up the protocols for embryo transfer of prolific and resilient goat breeds in ISU.

This will build upon the foundations on goat breeding earlier established by the research center that had earlier funding from the PCAARRD.

Embryo transfers are already being practiced in other countries such as Australia, US and New Zealand and that goat production can be maximized by harvesting the goat embryos and implanting them in surrogate goat mothers.

The method is faster since embryos can be easily transferred on selected does. Purchasing laboratory equipment is currently being undertaken and the set up of the laborotary will quickly follow.

In another effort, a New Zealand based scientist/embryologist is being enticed with the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program so as to further facilitate the embryo transfer R&D project.

It is not only in goat meat production but also in goat milk production where the program will have a significant effect.


First Smart Farm in the country

(Photo from DOST-PCIEERD)

The Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) facility will be soon established in the DOST-ASTI Complex in Quezon City. This program is under the Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants with funding of Php128.00 million.

SPICE aims to take the lead in research and development (R&D) for the standalone urban farming system that will elevate the efforts in urban farming promotion and high-tech plant conservation.

This is a result of the cooperation between the  UP Diliman Institute of Biology (IB) and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI), and UP Los Baños Institute of Biology. Aside from urban farming, the program includes the establishment of protocols for micropropagation, cryopreservation, and nursery management of rare, endangered, and economically valuable native plant species.

“The core of this project is not only the development of new technology but, on a macro perspective, to ensure that we can protect our country’s rich biodiversity,” DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara said.

In line with efforts in national food security, this will harness the potential of urban farming to augment traditional agriculture in the rural areas. This employs modern farming methods such as vertical farming, micropropagation, cryptopreservation and even hydroponics. These techniques are used in conjunction with the use of lighting, irrigation and climate monitoring by utilizing sensors, electronics, and automation.

It is also intended that the facility include a “Living Laboratory” wherein the technologies employed can be observed by visitors and also fresh produce that is grown on-site can be bought in the facility’s own store.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

DA allots P500 M for rice-corn blend

The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to spend at least half a billion pesos to facilitate the entry of the rice-corn blend in the local market.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the agency has committed an initial P50 million to the Philippine Maize Federation (PhilMaize).

“We will start entering the commercial markets in the second quarter. For this year, our target is to infuse 500,000 metric tons of corn component into our staple food supply and that should effectively cover whatever shortage we have in grains,” Piñol said.
As part of the Marawi rehabilitation, the DA is developing 10,000 hectares of white corn farms in Lanao.

The DA will also ensure the availability of quality corn seeds and provide capacity building, farm mechanization equipment, and post-harvest facilities.

The rice-corn blend will be available in NFA outlets in Metro Manila and in major supermarkets including SM, Rustan’s and Robinson’s.  It will be priced lower than the average retail price of rice.

The average price of regular-milled rice is P36 per kilogram.

PhilMaize, on the other hand, will supply quality rice-corn blend.

Last year, domestic consumption of rice reached 12.9 million metric tons (MT) while production was only 11.5 million MT or a shortfall of 1.4 million MT.

The local industry is promoting the rice-corn blend as a health food because corn has a lower calorie and carbohydrate content compared to rice.

Studies also showed that corn contains more vitamins, minerals, and proteins than white rice.  Blending the two will give more nutritional benefits to consumers.

One in five Filipinos eats white corn grits as staple food next to rice.

In the Zamboanga Peninsula alone, the per capita consumption of corn at 160 kilograms is higher than the national per capita consumption of rice at 110 kg.

Corn was considered as a “poor man’s rice” in the 1960s when rice shortage forced many Filipinos to eat inferior rice mixed with rough corn grits.

Approximately one-third of Filipino farmers, or 1.8 million individuals, depend on corn as their major source of livelihood.


Mushroom Industry for Pangasinan Town

One Town One Product (OTOP) is being pursued by a municipality in Pangasinan in order to for it to be a focal point in mushroom production in the country.

Sta, Maria, Pangasinan is the site of the Mushroom Research and Development Center of the Pangasinan State University and is casting its lot in producing mushrooms for enabling it to produce mushrooms the whole year round.

The center wherein there is a 4,000 square meter lot with a laboratory room where strains of cultured mushrooms are produced and stored aims for having a sustainable mushroom production capacity that will be at the forefront of a national mushroom industry.

The production of high quality and adaptable mushrooms strains that will be available to farmers, growers, students and researchers and even entrepreneurs who wish to go into mushroom will be part of the center.

 The town grows Pleurotus- oyster mushroom and Volvariella-button mushrooms.   

To further the promotion of its mushrooms, the municipality has declared  Feb. 14-22, 2018 and every year thereafter as Mushroom Festival week. 

Locally grown mushrooms have a price of Php 150m-200 per kilo and This agricultural town is now aggressively promoting mushroom production.

This cash crop will enable mushroom farmers and growers to have a year round crop that will be a source of revenue for them and the template can be replicable anywhere in the country.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Laser leveling technology for agriculture

Laser Levelling Technology being utilized in a farm

Agricultural producers must embrace revolutionary strategies to increase productivity, deliver cost-effective technologies, and ensure sustainable food supply.

The International Rice Research Institute, in cooperation with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), conducted a training on basic tractor operation, maintenance and implementation of laser-assisted land leveling.

This initiative is part of the work package output of the water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments or WateRice project.

The project aims to teach the  Department of Agriculture (DA) extension agents about basic operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the laser leveling system, a farming technique that uses laser-assisted system and a drag bucket to make precise leveling of the field.

This technology makes farming efficient by reducing water requirement during land preparation and labor requirement during weeding operation. It also improves rice crop establishment, uniformity and maturity.

As part of the training, participants had a hands-on exercise on basic tractor operation and an orientation on conducting pre-maintenance checks to ensure the equipment’s proper and long-term functioning.

They were also taught how to perform a topographic survey on the field, which is an important step in the leveling process.

The activity’s highlight was an actual engagement in leveling operations. Participants were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with laser leveling equipment, and were encouraged to raise questions regarding its use.

During the exchanges, participants learned valuable information about the technology such as the costs of laser leveling per field, the length of time it takes to laser level certain areas, and the best time of the season to conduct it.

 “Through the training, we were able to witness how laser leveling is done, and how useful it will be to the farmer,”  said Jerry Batcagan of Philrice Isabela.

For her part, Dianne Gabriel of WateRice  said: “This new technology will help women to easily participate in field work. Now, nobody can say girls can’t deal with machines.”

 “The WateRice project encounters problems during the dry season, such as water shortage and high cost of leveling. In other countries, technology is made available to small holder farmers through the private sector and service providers. We are happy that finally, we have the approval of the Department of Agriculture to acquire a laser leveling unit so we can start implementing the technique in our programs,” said Roger Barroga, head of PhilRice’s Information Systems Division.

The training was attended by 36 technicians and researchers from the DA’s field offices in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; Isabela and Batac.


Cocoa industry boom to spur Philippines farm tourism

Philippine Cacao

The Philippines’ fast-growing cacao and chocolate industry will boost a promising farm tourism industry that caters to foreign and local visitors looking for wholesome fun and adventure in the countryside.

“Farm tourism in the country has thrived on the best practices and growth of the cocoa industry,” said Sen. Cynthia Villar in her keynote address to over 2,000 cacao growers and entrepreneurs during the Kakao Konek 2017 exposition held at SMX Lanang in Davao City.

Villar authored Republic Act 10816 or Farm Tourism Development Act, which mandates the promotion of tourism at agricultural destinations through partnerships with private stakeholders.

Davao City boasts of vast greenery, including nature park and farm resorts, like the Malagos Resort, Eden’s Nature Park, Hijo Banana Resort, Gumamela Caverock Farm Resort, Pearl Farm, among others.

During the two-day conference and exhibit, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte and officials of the Department of Tourism  led the launch of the “Chocolate Tour Overload” that featured Davao City as the “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.”

“Accounting for 90 percent of the local cacao production, the spotlight is now on Mindanao with Davao as the country’s chocolate capital, even as the farmers face the challenge to meet the growing demand for Philippine cacao, indicating international recognition of its quality,” Duterte said.

“We believe in the perfect marriage of farm and tourism as showcased by the sweet success our cocoa growers and chocolate producers, like the Malagos chocolate,” said DOT Assistant Secretary Eden Josephine David.

David noted that the Malagos Puentespina chocolates, produced in a self-sustained 12-hectare cocoa farm resort in Malagos, Davao City, was among the top 50 awardees of the Salon de Chocolat held in Paris recently.

“The challenge of achieving 100,000 metric tons of cacao by 2020 stays, and this can only be achieved with both private and government sectors working together,” said Dante Muyco, president of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, the event’s main sponsor.

Also present during the conference was Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol who lauded the best practices of Davao’s successful cacao growers and chocolate producers.


Organic Seed Production Boosted by Government

It is acknowledged that organically grown agricultural produce is a healthier alternative. Also, organic farming is considered ecologically sound as far as farming techniques are concerned since chemicals that eventually find its residue in the eco-system are non-existent.

But it is not only in the growing of the agricultural products that organic farming is all about. The production of organic seeds is the first step in organic farming and the government recognizes this.

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is endeavoring in this direction with its funding of the  “Development of Organic Seed Production System of Lowland Vegetables and Field Legumes  and Strengthening Partnership in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and the Bicol Region.” The aim of the project/program is the establishment of a national organic seed production area and at the same time expand the science based technology on organic seed production.

The project’s objective is  increasing the production of certified organic seeds of NSIC varieties and promising lines of field legumes and selected vegetables, maintaining organic certification from Organic  Certification Center of the Philippines  for the organic seed production system, strengthening partnership with identified organic stakeholders in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and the Bicol Region, and disseminating organic seed production technology to farmers and interested individuals in said regions.

The target is production area for tomato, eggplant, squash, ampalaya, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, mustard, okra, pole sitao, and cowpea consists of a three-hectare land inside BPI-LBNCRDC.

The project was initiated in 2013 and it led to the expansion of the organic seeds production area. 

More than 2,000 farmers and technicians trained on organic seed and vegetable production were the beneficiaries of the project. The trainings were conducted in Palawan, Albay, Sorsogon, and Oriental Mindoro, which led to the identification of possible collaborators of the project.

Russian Technical Assistance to Help PH Agri

Current PNRI Irradiation Facility

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)  will get technical assistance from Russia with regards to increasing the number of irradiation facilities for agricultural use.

The assistance will come from the Russian government that will add more electronic beam facilities for use by fruit and vegetable exporters. This was disclosed by DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.

This will considerably increase the capacity of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in handling the irradiation of agricultural products for export.

“We are short of capacity in terms of irradiating products particularly those for export. Today, we have to irradiate potato, mango… because this is a requirement of importing countries. We only have one facility in QC, in the PNRI compound. It’s running 24/7, and still cannot cope,” Dela Peña said. “So there is an urgent need to set up more facilities.”

Increased demand for Philippine vegetable and fruit exports has resulted in the demand of the irradiation facility that will improve shelf life and disinfect the fruits and vegetables to be exported.

Currently, there is only one facility of the PNRI that conducts such process and there is a backlog even though it is already operating at full capacity 24 hours and 7 days a week.

This will be undertaken via a local firm, A Brown Co. Inc. (ABCI), that has partnered with Rusatom Healthcare, a division of Russian State Atomic Energy Corp. Rosatom, to build a network of agro irradiation centers in the Philippines starting this 2018 to help improve the country’s agribusiness sector and its capacity.

Irradiation or electronic beams for agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables eliminate bacteria and germs, prevent the spread of pests, and delay or prevent ripening or spoiling during transit and storage. The process reduces the risk of food-borne illnesses and increases longevity and shelf life. The process does not make the produce radioactive and is considered safe.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Asian Fisheries Academy Honors 2 Filipino Aquaculturists

Dr. Guerrero and Dr. Maximo Abesamis being feted by he AFA

Rafael Guerrero and Maximo Abesamis received citations at the Asian Fisheries Academy (AFA). The honors were conferred by the Society of Aquaculture Engineers of the Philippines (SAEP) and the Philippine Aquaculture Society,  Inc. (PAS). 

Rafael Guerrero is considered as the promoter of all-male tilapia culture in the country. Together with his wife, Guerrero in the 1980s formed a research and development company that provided sex reversal feed that will boost commercial production of tilapia despite the fact that the tilapia were all male.

This was from his doctoral dissertation at Auburn University during the 1970s and then was continued at the Central Luzon State University. This resulted in increased yields in tilapia farms.

Guerrero is a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award and has also received various recognitions and awards from local and international institutions.

Maxio Abesamis introduced the modular system in milkfish culture. Abesamis has also been instrumental in introducing Gusathion and Brestan to control snails and other microorganisms that are harmful to milkfish culture and farming. His system was proven to be efficient that up to now, almost all fishpond operators are using the same method. 

An awardee of the Ten Outstanding Young Scientists (TOYS) award in 1980 conferred by the National Science and Development Board (NSDB), he pioneered the system of bangus production in fishpens that were initially undertaken in Dagupan City, Pangasinan which was widely replicated in the country. 

But Abesamis also discovered that bangus and salmon had similar characteristics and it was also applied to mass producing salmon in ocean cages.

These contributions led to sustainable growth in the fishing industry.

PH Non-Rice Agri Products Increase in Yield

Philippine vegetable and root crops yield posted increases in production this year. Leading the production is Eastern Visayas that accounted for 40% of the last quarter harvest of vegetables and root crops.

The increased yields were registered as mongo, peanuts, cabbage, eggplant, tomato, cassava and sweet potato.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), cassava production increased by two percent for the last quarter of the year. 

This was due to the sustained demand for food, feeds and industrial use being experienced all over the country. 

With regards to tomato production, it also posted an increase in production of 2%. This was due to high yielding varieties and sustained demand.

The Cagayan Valley Region posted the highest production for mongo with the Davao Region and Cagayan de Oro posting increased yields as well.

The confluence of high yielding varieties and ideal weather conditions contributed considerably to the posting of increased yields.

This is in consonance with the Department of Agriculture's (DA's) efforts in providing the means for national food security and affordable food prices for all as per President Duterte's policy.

Bohol to Be Developed as PH Dairy Capital

Dairy Farming in the Philippines 

5,000 heads of Girolando dairy cattle will start the ambitious program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) of increasing the production of 22 million liters of milk annually. 

Bohol is being targeted to be the Dairy Capital of the country. This was announced by DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol. The site of the Philippine Dairy Development Program is the 3,000-hectare Ubay Stock Farm which is conducive to optimizing dairy cattle farming.

“I will be meeting with Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto and Ubay Mayor Costan Reyes to present to them a proposal which would turn the province of Bohol into the dairy capital of the Philippines,” DA Sec. Pinol stated.

The DA Secretary also said, “The project is expected to provide employment for the local people and additional sources of income for the farmers who would be engaged in the planting of forage and in the fattening of the male offsprings of the dairy cattle.” 
IN 2016, dairy production increased four percent to 21,160 metric tons, registering the highest increase under the livestock sector at 10 percent to P715 million.

But, the industry still could not supply the local requirement as the country imported 453,000 metric tons of dairy valued at $808 million in 2016.

The main source of the imports is New Zealand that accounts for 39 percent of the total and the US (24 percent). Other sources were Australia and Germany.

The success of the dairy program will then be replicated in other areas of Bohol wherein the targeted communities will also benefit economically so as to spur further development and more income for the people.

Technology Transfer Day in Central Luzon

The 5th Technology Transfer Day hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was held last December 11, 2017, at the Widus Hotel. The 5th Edition for this year was for Central Luzon. 

Te  Technology Transfer Day was participated in by almost 500 technology generators from the Fairness Opinion Board (FOB) that included Micro-Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), technology experts, lawyers and even members of the academe.

The 5th edition’s theme was Global competitiveness through research-led, industry-linked technology transfers,” wherein sessions for consultancy/negotiation for technology transfer deals with potential investors were conducted.

These varied from agri-aqua culture culture productivity that featured carrageenan as plant growth fertilizers, wilt culture that addresses fusarium wilt of solenceous crops and lamp diagnostic spot syndrome virus in shrimps and genome-based lateral flow biosensor kits.

Industry competitiveness sessions were also conducted that offered technologies on stabilized brown rice, food innovation center for processing equipment, food innovation center products and even ready to drink mango juice with nata.

Another session was for showcased agro-forestry machinery like non-wood dryers; bamboo technologies; hand tractor-attached rice transplanter; Central Luzon State University-technology hydroponics, and Central Luzon State University-technology biogas digester.

Technology licensing agreements were also awarded.

This is the 5th Technology Transfer activity that the DOST conducted this year. This is in accordance with Republic Act 10055, or the Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009. The Act mandates the DOST to provide the funding and support system for the ownership, management, use, and commercialization of intellectual property generated from research and development funded by the government.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Brewing success with Cordillera coffee farmers

Getting one’s daily caffeine mix seems to be a walk in the park for some--be it a cappuccino from a favorite high-end cafe or a simple instant coffee from home. But this is not the case for two long-time friends whose love affair with coffee moved to a whole new level.

Knowing that coffee is more complex in flavor than any other drink, Katherine Chelle “KC” Boter and Karen de Guzman are taking their beans very seriously.

Thus, they put up Figures of Beans with the aim of bringing responsibly-grown, skillfully roasted and expertly prepared premium coffee right to anyone’s doorsteps.

When KC left the private banking industry to do freelance work in 2015, she decided to partner with Karen who already had a bakeshop.

“Every time I work, I really need coffee. I don’t want instant coffee, I want quality coffee, the ones that I get from Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and the others,” said the 26-year-old KC who graduated with a degree in Psychology from the De La Salle University.
KC believes that making a good cup of coffee with the best ingredients is the bedrock of a successful business.

Figures of Beans sources its coffee from the Cordillera region, a major producer of international quality coffee beans.

The two girls set up the business at a time when the Philippines remains highly dependent on imported coffee beans.

Local production can hardly keep up with the continuous demand for coffee, prompting coffee-related businesses to heavily depend on imports from major producing countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and India, among others.

“We import a lot of coffee so we tried looking for other sources where we can really get good local coffee. We saw the potential of the industry here in the Philippines,” KC said.

“Majority of our coffee beans comes from Sagada, some from Benguet. Before,  we used all imported coffee for our cupcakes and it was really expensive, about three times compared with the locally made,” Karen said.

With a seed capital of roughly P30,000, KC and Karen started Figures of Beans, an online store which offers Cordillera coffee in six variants --  Irony (Sagada dark roast), Oxymoron (Arabica Robusta), Paradox (Benguet Arabica), Understatement (hazelnut), Metaphor (caramel) and Euphemism (vanilla).

“We had to do the legwork since the brand was just starting. We had to approach stores one by one and talk to them about our products. It’s important that when they see our products, it is visually appealing but the end goal is to provide quality coffee,” KC said.

“We started in stores in Tagaytay through the pasalubong centers. Then from there, we saw the warm reception of the customers, once they see Sagada they want to get it, they associate it with the experience they had when they went there,” she added.

“We don’t take coffee literally. Coffee is so special from the production, coming from the farmers all the way to your cup, something that binds people together. For us, it’s not just coffee because there’s more to coffee,” KC said.

Figures of Beans has since attracted a significant following.  To further expand their products’ reach, the duo teamed up with several merchants which now include Kultura by SM and Manila Peninsula, their biggest brands to date.

“I handle all the big partners while Karen handles our online partners like Lazada, Shopinas, and Honestbee. Once we were out there online, other platforms saw us and they invited us to join,” KC said.

While Figures of Beans is almost two years old, the two think the growth of the business has been unexpectedly fast, allowing them to get the return of their investment in a span of one year.

“I think there is also the luck factor. When I started my own cafe, development was really slow. But with Figures of Beans,  we were able to partner with big brands,” said Karen, who has a Management degree from the University of Asia and the Pacific.

While Figures of Beans can be considered a pioneer for carrying the Sagada brand, a similar line of business sprang up, making competition tougher.

“When we started, it was only us but now, all of a sudden, there a lot of other brands. We really are the ones who started putting the Sagada coffee in retail stores. But we don’t really look at the competition because we want to focus on our own brand,” KC said.

Apart from the coffee itself, KC and Karen wanted to share to consumers the joy of brewing their own coffee in the comforts of their homes and offices through instruction manuals included in every purchase of their products.

“Not everyone knows how to brew. We are an instant coffee nation, that when we see ground coffee, we immediately assume that we can just mix it with water. With us, we want to encourage our customers to brew their own so they get to experience quality coffee,” KC said.

“We want to provide quality content to our customers and readers by providing tips on how to brew their coffee and give educational videos as well,” she added.

As of now, KC and Karen dream of expanding their business to other parts of the country and eventually building brick and mortar stores as well as tapping the international markets.

“We had a lot of milestones but I think there’s still so much to improve on especially our products’ reach. Not because you’re with Kultura, you’re already big. We want people to know that we have good coffee here since a lot of people think they can only get good coffee from other countries,” KC said.

On a larger scope, Karen and KC are urging the government and the private sector to help uplift the lives of coffee farmers and ensure a healthy supply of high-quality coffee for the future.
“The problem is that the younger generations do not want to farm anymore so the older ones can no longer pass on their knowledge. I think the government should provide programs to the farmers because we have enough space to plant but then again, we don’t have the programs to support them,” KC said.

“We want to make programs for the farmers to make it sustainable for them. Some are disheartened to continue since there is no support. The only way for farmers to continue producing local coffee is to simply support them,” she added.


DA goes all out for Agri-Tourism

It has been recognized that since 3 years ago, there is a market for Agricultural Tourism or Agri-Tourism. This country is fortunate that there is an agricultural sector with many success stories that prove that agriculture is sustainable and presents another facet for tourism.

In the case of the Department of Agriculture 9DA), the agency has already recognized the potentials of Agri-Tourism. The DA is converting one of its research stations into an Agri-Tourism site.  

The Davao Region Upland Agriculture Research Station (DARUARS) is set to convert the 429-hectare land into an agro-eco tourism area.

According to DA-Davao Region Research and Regulations assistant director Angelina Pancho “This has a big potential to become an agro eco-tourism area. We can conduct research about climate resilient crops here and put more buildings which can help the farmers and IPs (indigenous people).”

A multi-purpose building has been donated by the BAR which is a the P4-million multipurpose R&D building which plays a vital role in providing farmers the means of access to the various farming technologies generated from the works of the R&D community.

“We want to foster an environment that will facilitate the easier adoption of new technologies that contribute more effectively to tackling the emerging challenges in agriculture, not only in this region but in other places as well,” DA-BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar said.


Copyright © 2015 Agriculture Philippines ™ is a registered trademark.

Designed by Templateism . Hosted on Blogger Platform.