In one press release, Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged investors to support the core agriculture, forestry and energy development projects in Aurora. In particular, he stated that the Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT) will establish the Coffee Research and Development Center and as well as the development of a coffee nursery which aim to increase the production of good quality coffee beans in order to respond to the increasing demand of the local and international market. This plan will also be a big boost to the coffee industry in the province which will eventually help the farmers to acquire good quality planting materials and lead to increases in farm household income.
The Dipaculao Coffee Producers Cooperative was organized in February 22, 2001, and has since received technical assistance from the Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT), the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), PCARRD-DOST and other local and national government agencies. The cooperative is very instrumental in extending the assistance to the remaining 71 active coffee growers in Dipaculao, Aurora in improving their coffee production.
During the actual interview and field survey of the coffee growers on February 12, 2009 conducted by a composite team from ASCOT and LGU Dipaculao, it was established that there were originally about 300 hectares of land planted to coffee in Brgy. Diarabasin, Dipaculao, the known center of coffee plantation in Aurora. However, due to packaging/marketing problems, some of the farmers shifted to root crops and vegetables production leaving coffee as a secondary commodity. Currently, there are only 60 hectares of coffee plantation remaining in the area. They used to plant three varieties of coffee, Coffea robusta, Coffea liberica and Coffea arabica. An average of 150 sacks per hectare of dried coffee per year can be harvested in the area. As for the nearby municipalities, there is no existing data as of the moment.
Using their seed money, the cooperative also established a “bagsakan center”, where the individual farmers can sell their harvested coffee. It has been found out that the cooperative is buying dried coffee at PhP 1,140.00/sack which in turn can produced an average of 15 kg. of sorted grade 1 coffee beans and can be sold out directly to Nestle Philippines in Cavite at PhP 140.00/kg.
They also established a small coffee shop in Brgy. Diarabasin, Dipaculao, Aurora, along the highway going to the northern towns of Aurora. It serves as “stop-over” place to enjoy coffee for the commuters, a place to enjoy the great taste of their locally produced coffee known as Aurora Blend.
The cooperative has also been able to acquire machines such as pulper, dryer, dehuller, roaster and grinder, however, they still lack the processing/packaging machines to properly commercialize their product. With their limited financial resources, they are hopeful that additional funding support from national government agencies could help them to complete their equipment so that they may complete the business cycle up to the packaging and marketing system.
At present, the coffee shop simply boils the ground coffee in a big pot and stores the brewed coffee in a thermos bottle for ready consumption by consumers who drop by. The ground coffee product is manually packed by in plastic bags and sealed using a candle, thus compromising the quality and safety of the product.
Currently, ASCOT is assisting the cooperative in the product standardization process and intends to find ways to improve the packaging and label design. The proponent recognizes the importance of packaging in enhancing the market competitiveness of coffee product. The existing packaging of the coffee product needs to be drastically improved in terms of type of packaging material, label design and provision of nutritional information in the package label. In addition, provision of vacuum packaging equipment and impulse sealers will enhance the packaging design and prolong the shelf life of product. With the proposed project, ASCOT hopes to improve the product package design, capture new markets and make it one of “Aurora’s very Own” product.
Specifically, the project aims to:
- Improve the packaging and label designs of the locally produced coffee products in Aurora;
- Provide packaging equipment to enhance product quality and marketability of coffee products;
- Provide nutrition facts testing and shelf-life evaluation of products;
- Provide training for the members of the cooperative on processing, packaging and labeling;
- To generate employment for five (5) individuals in Aurora.
This project is being led by Dr. Eutiquio L. Rotaquio, Jr. , with financial assistance from the DOST-Regional Office III amounting to PhP 230,000.00, in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry-Aurora.