Bataraza coffee farmers undergo training to help improve their appreciation of coffee taste. | Photo from RTNMC

Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) will support the coffee farmers of Bataraza town through the third phase of their training, enabling them to establish a strong foothold in the coffee industry.

Rosaldo Buscaino, an officer of the Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences (DMTG), stated that the company aims to support the growth of coffee farming among local farmers, who have been producing Liberica coffee cherries for eight years. These cherries are harvested from plantations located in the barangays of Sapa, Tarusan, Ocayan, and Sandoval.

The farmers have completed two of the five training phases, and are now preparing for financial planning to help them manage their sales. The entire training process will run until the first quarter of 2024.

“Possible na buhayin namin silang lahat na barangay— after ilang years ay huminto ang training. Ngayon ay ni-restart natin, ni-rejuvenate natin ang farmers,” he said.

Experts share technologies and skills in evaluating coffee taste. | Photo from RTNMC

About 70% of the soil bioreactor compost produced by DMTG will be used for coffee farming. This compost is a result of RTNMC’s research to improve the lateritic topsoil for agriculture and rehabilitation projects in the mine site and partner communities.

Furthermore, RTNMC is partnering with Equilibrium Intertrade Corporation and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to conduct a municipality-wide coffee competition. This partnership aims to provide technological support and connect farmers to industry experts.

The current training program for local farmers is also in preparation for their participation in next year’s Philippine National Coffee Competition. To qualify for the competition, Bataraza needs to produce 180 kilos of well-sorted coffee, which is why the training is focused on improving the quality and quantity of their harvest.

“Kapag nakapasok ka ron at naging maganda ang result ng iyong coffee, ibi-bid ng lahat possible buyers, sa international. Sila mismo ang maghahabol sayo, yon ang target namin kasi iyon ang matagal na nila ini-aim,” he said.

As the second stage of assistance to farmers after the training process, there is now a consideration of establishing a centralized coffee processing facility. This facility will help farmers improve the efficiency and quality of their coffee production, and potentially increase their profits.