PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte: The old town of Piddig, the famous site of the historic Basi (sugarcane wine) Revolt during the Spanish-era has started developing an initial 10-hectare Arabica coffee plantation located in one of the coldest mountain ranges here intercropped with fresh pine trees.
“The initial phase of the coffee project is almost complete,” said town mayor Eduardo Guillen following the field visit of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Samuel Peòafiel in Piddig on Wednesday.
The DENR gave the Piddig local government P52 million for the establishment of a coffee nursery to produce 2 million coffee seedlings in three years time or until 2016.
As part of the National Greening Program (NGP) of the national government, the DENR has approved the planting of coffee trees as one of the components of reforestation project and at the same time, provide alternative livelihood to community residents.
Since the onset of rainy season, Guillen said project beneficiaries are now planting coffee at the pilot coffee farm.
The coffee project got the backing of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is now in the process of releasing livelihood assistance to 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiaries in Piddig town.
The DSWD livelihood assistance worth P5,000 per family-beneficiary is meant to engage family members to produce organic fertilizer through vermiculture needed in sustaining the coffee farm.
Earlier, target beneficiaries undergo training on how to produce organic fertilizer through a simple process of vermicomposting. This technology employs worms (African night crawlers) to decompose waste materials such as household and farm to produce organic fertilizer for sustainable agriculture.
In Ilocos Norte, the vermi–composting technology is now being practice by many farmers due to high cost of farming inputs such as commercial fertilizer.
Aside from coffee, the Piddig government is also propagating shade trees like kakawate, as nitrogen-fixing enhancer to serve as shades of the coffee trees.
The Piddig coffee plantation was realized following the initiative of the local government unit here to tap other government agencies such as the DENR, DSWD, Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways and the provincial government of Ilocos Norte for funding assistance.