Inquirer Libre - Davao - - PANGUNAHING PAHINA - By Margarita Avellanosa-Valle

M ARAMAG, BUKIDNON—Coffee can be naturally sweet, says Lilibeth Puerto Galendez, 49, the main coffee roaster of Kape Maramag and the vicepresident of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) Kape Maramag, Inc.

She knows by heart the beginnings of their group and the open secret why their coffee is "sweet".

“Handpick only the fully ripened "green" beans and meticulously process them,” Galendez explains. “And that makes the coffee sweet,” she adds.

Since 2012, their members have been reaping what they sow. They’ve been assured of income and a steadily growing market for their brand of coffee.

Galendez recalls how, years back, the coffee industry in Maramag was almost dying. Coffee farmers, who could not sell their goods to local traders, were almost giving up. Until the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s high value crop development program decided to come up with a coffee roasting facility through the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) Federation of Maramag, the mother organization of Kape Maramag.

From only 1,050 members from the town’s 20 barangays, the Federation has grown through the years.

Kape Maramag opened for business in April 2012.

“They started coffee roasting, grinding and brewing with only a hundred kilograms of coffee beans,” Galendez recalls. By September the following year, they had already processed a total of 1,271.10 kilograms coffee beans.

With only P11,500 as starting capital, Kape Maramag grossed P297,039.90 that year.

Farmers who have smaller volumes to sell been selling their coffee beans to Kape Maramag especially during off season. To further encourage federation members to deliver high quality beans, Kape Maramag offered an incentive price of P5 on top of the prevailing price per kilo for every high quality coffee beans delivered.

Kape Maramag keeps a kiosk near the bus station in Maramag which sells cups of Robusta coffee at affordable prices.

Since farmers find it hard to move their goods to the market, Kape Maramag plies a small vehicle to collect coffee from farms uphill, Galendez said.

“We have potential buyers as some of our partners outside the country bring our coffee in California and Nevada,” says Imelda Mendoza, the president of the Federation.

This year, Kape Maramag has secured funds from Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), who believes in its track record and its bright prospects for the future.

Believed contributory to the sweetness of Coffee Robusta is the cool environment as the heavy fog shows.

Coffee farmers from the North pose with Kape Maramag officers.

The aroma of freshly roasted coffee fills the air as Ms Galendez opened the machine few minutes after the roasting process.

Best Coffee Award Robusta category won by Kape Maramag in March 2017.

Kape Maramag member Kagawad Rogelio Iraya illustrates the length of branch to be cut in coffee rejuvenation.


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