Women Active in Cordillera Coffee Industry

Manila Bulletin, September 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Women Active in Cordillera Coffee Industry


If you are invited to a coffee industry tour in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), you will readily notice that women are about the most active players in developing a viable coffee industry in the area.

That's exactly what we noticed when the Department of Trade and Industry invited us to a media coffee tour in Kalinga last September 19. Most of the attendees in the roundtable discussion held at a hotel in Tabuk City were women.

Development of the coffee industry in the CAR is a major thrust of the government to achieve the dreamed inclusive growth in the country. And for very good reasons.

Developing the coffee industry will involve the participation of small scale players. Coffee that is grown in the Cordillera is considered a special kind and even the small scale players, particularly the women, will be able to partake of the bounty that can be derived from Cordillera-grown coffee.

But the key players have to be assisted in a number of ways. And that is what the DTI and other government agencies and private organizations are providing. To fully exploit the special reputation of Cordillera-grown coffee, the products should be competitive in quality. And the necessary quality could be achieved by planting the right variety, proper growing techniques, harvesting, processing, packaging and branding.

The DTI, in particular, has been helping empower the women who are most active in the coffee industry. One way is linking the producers to the market. And one particular lady who has become some sort of a celebrity through the help of the DTI is Zita B. Degay, 61, of Bagumbayan, Upper Tabuk. She has become famous for her Kalinga Musang Coffee.

Zita started to process Musang coffee in a small way in 2010. She was encouraged to pursue Musang coffee production when a former lady governor ordered 9 bottles containing 400 grams each, and brought the same to Manila. Then a former vice mayor also ordered from her for giving as gift to political supporters in Manila.

Then the DTI came into her life. She was selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Rural Micro Enterprises Program (RUMEP) funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) of the United Nations. As such she underwent training in various aspects of operating a small business.

In October 2013, the DTI facilitated the participation of Zita in the Coffee Origins, a national event organized by the Philippine Coffee Board. In this event, the public is invited to drink free coffee coming from different origins in the country. In that particular event held at the Greenbelt in Makati, three different civet coffees were offered for free tasting.

To Zita's delight, her Musang coffee was the favored one by the tasters. As a result, she was able to receive orders for Musang coffee worth several hundred thousand pesos. …

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