Coffee beans taste sweet.
This is how the NGP beneficiaries of the Masisit-Dacal Cooperative (Mascoop) expressed elation of what their NGP site located in So. Malukit, Centro II, Sanchez Mira, have it become. The hardships and struggles in growing and nurturing their coffee plantation were evident of their success. They managed to grow a bean into brew.
Way back in 2012, the Mascoop was initially awarded 20 hectares starting only with 8,000 coffee seedlings planted. With the fast pace of implementing the project, it was later expanded into 80 hectares introducing cacao as another prime commodity planted.
During the early years and while waiting for the fruiting and harvest period, the cooperative-beneficiaries adopted an intercropping scheme to maximize the utilization of the area and to have additional revenue for the benefit of the general membership. High-value commercial crops planted were pineapple, banana and coconut.
The first few years of harvest from the coffee were solely used as seed source for seedling production to complement their nursery project. Some are being sold to private individuals and the others are used for replanting. This is one good practice they do to maintain the reforestation project.
Today, the cooperative is not only winning a good harvest from the plantation but also providing local job opportunities.
“Through the proceeds of NGP, we are now able to draw salaries of the 15 employees maintaining our plantation. Some of these employees belong to the Agta tribal community living near our plantation,” said Fely Jean Pacris, Mascoop marketing officer.
Pacris said the maintenance team in the plantation site is one of the cooperative’s departments created to regularly monitor the plantation development.
They now process and produce their own products ‘kapeng barako’ and pineapple vinegar which are sold in various trade fairs and exhibits as well as in commercial establishments found in the locality.
The cooperative was also able to acquire its own machinery for processing of their products. They are now partnering with the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment for a higher market of their product.
Though just started to boom, the beneficiaries are confident that this is now the start of their dream to expand their production and become suppliers to big companies needing coffee and cacao raw materials.
According to Pacris, the NGP site before was unproductive, covered with intense grasses and no one braves to enter the place because of its closed and unwanted appearance.
Who would ever believe that the vast idle land will turn into an inspiring landscape and gave bigger returns to the adopters. With the depleted topsoil before, it’s almost a miracle for this piece of land to nourish green.
But true enough, the concerted efforts from the government and the community worked out. DENR personnel had non-stop monitoring and technical assistance from site development, nursery establishment, outplanting up to the assessment and maintenance of the seedlings planted.
Problems during implementation are normal. They, too, had encountered challenges on social acceptability. They hardly got others convinced to engage with the program. But as their site develop, the members finally supported the reforestation program.
Pacris added that embarking on the program is not an easy task. Handling a coffee plantation takes a lot of effort and willpower to see the project through. For them, their motto is, “If there is a will, there will have definitely a way.”
With the abundance from the returns of the plantation complemented with the support of various government agencies, the beneficiaries have testified that the NGP is the main foundation of all the gains they are reaping.