Sagada today is still more known as tourist getaway where people go to escape the madness of city life, or just to enjoy nature.
But through the efforts of a farmers’ cooperative in Sagada, the local government in the area, Sagada Arabica Coffee Council (SACC) and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Sagada is slowly emerging as the country’s Arabica coffee capital.
“If Batangas and Cavite are known for their kape barako or Liberica coffee, Sagada is slowing gaining reputation for its quality Arabica coffee among foreign and local tourists visiting the popular highland town,” said Rex Bingabing, PhilMech executive director.
PhilMech intends to deploy the coffee depulper it developed among Sagada coffee farmers, who are starting to enjoy the benefits of tourists patronizing their products. The SACC is composed of local government unit (20 percent), local private business entrepreneurs (20 percent) and coffee farmers (60 percent).
With a capacity of 40 to 50 kilograms of coffee berries an hour and operated by only one person, PhilMech believes that its coffee depulper can greatly help coffee farmers in Sagada, and make the municipality known for its organic Arabica coffee. Using the traditional mortar and pestle, a farmer can depulp and dehull 40 to 50 kilograms of coffee berries in one working day.
Using the coffee depulper, postharvest losses are reduced to less 6 percent from as much as 16 percent using the mortar and pestle method. Also, the quality of the processed coffee beans is greatly improved with the use of the coffee depulper, which in turn can make farmers demand better prices for their beans.
At present, the “Sagada Gold” brand is being marketed by the Sagada Coffee Growers and Processors Cooperative, which is being assisted by PhilMech and the municipal government of Sagada in adopting modern postharvest technologies for coffee.
Bingabing said that the PhilMech Coffee Depulper is one of the low-cost and portable equipment that the agency developed from its research and development activities which can benefit greatly small farmers.