Coffee Heritage Project plants 3,000 coffee trees in Sagada
SAGADA, Mountain Province — At least 3,000 coffee tree seedlings were planted in two northern barangays of this scenic town last week to promote the local coffee industry and help farmers.
More than 200 volunteers from the different parts of the country and even abroad participated in the tree planting activity of the Coffee Heritage Project (CHP). The coffee trees planted are known as the “typica” variety which is among the heritage trees in northern Sagada particularly in Madongo and Bangaan barangays.
The CHP is private initiative that started in 2009 with the aim of preserving the heritage of organic coffee passed on from one generation to another. It seeks to partner with farmers around the country and encourage coffee production while preserving various indigenous or local peoples’ agricultural traditions and practices.
“This year, the project aims to plant more than 3,000 coffee seedlings at 34 different planting sites in Sagada thru the help of volunteers from all walks of life and the local community partner-beneficiaries,” said coffee specialist Rich Watanabe, founder of the CHP.
“Coffee Heritage Project is about preserving the unique coffee heritage and Sagada has embraced this approach, Watanabe said. Sagada is the pilot area of the project with local coffee farmer Goad Sibayan as Watanabe’s first farmer-partner.
The scheme involves CHP partnering with farmers or individuals who have lands suitable for growing coffee trees by giving them technical assistance and free seedlings from the centuries-old coffee trees. Part of the approach is the tree planting activity involving volunteers.
After tree planting, it is the responsibility of the volunteers to come back from time to time and check on their trees, together with the farmer beneficiaries. They should make sure that the trees would live and bear fruits and would be harvested.
Last year, Watanabe said that as soon as the tree planting was done, at least half of the participants immediately signed again for this year’s activity which shows the enthusiasm of the volunteers from all walks of life – both young and old – in the advocacy of preserving the heritage coffee, and at the same time experience the rich culture and cool climate of Sagada.
Since starting the CHP in Sagada, the initiative has expanded to partner-farms in Bukidnon, Batangas, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Mountain Province and other parts of Visayas and Mindanao, Watanabe said.
Mayor James Pooten said that the coffee production in Sagada started several decades ago in the northern barangays particularly in Fidelisan. It soon expanded throughout communities in the municipality.
Production was mainly for house consumption, and only when there was surplus that they sold it for additional income. With the boom of tourism, Pooten said locals saw coffee as a growing commodity and Sagada has since been associated with the coffee industry. Coffee production has become a livelihood and source of additional income for the people.
In 2017, Sagada coffee was recognized as one of the best in the world. Local farmer Sibayan’s Bana’s Coffee was awarded the Medaille Gourmet (Gourmet Medal) in the International Contest of Coffees Roasted in their Countries of Origin organized by the AVPA (Agence Pour la Valorisation des Produits Agricoles). The award was received by Philippine Consul Rapunzel Acop on behalf of coffee farmer Sibayan and partners Watanabe and Butch at awarding ceremonies at the Peru Embassy in Paris. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)