Experts say that site characteristics affect both physical and cup quality of coffee. This is the basis for most specialty coffees and those that are branded to their origins.

coffee arabica photo

Photo by Kenneth Hong

The Arabica variety grows favorably and productively in cool areas (17ºC-24ºC) with high elevations (1,000-1,800 meters above sea level) in the Cordillera Administrative Region and in similar areas in the Philippines.

In particular, Arabica coffee green beans produced in Benguet and Mountain Province are  comparable to quality beans from South America.

A visit to Magsasaka Siyentista Oseño Lay-os’ farm in Sagada by farmer cooperators and local government officials attests to these claims.

PCAARRD and the Highland Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium coordinated the visit as part of the Science and Technology Community-based Farm and TechnoMart projects.

Lay-os’ coffee farm is 2,800 meters above sea level. Science and Technology (S&T) interventions introduced in his farm included shading his coffee trees with alnus trees and the establishment of an improvised water impounding system to provide sufficient irrigation during the dry months.

Lay-os’ S&T-based farm shows that growing coffee trees under alnus shade gives higher yield. In particular, it produces 16?24 berries per cluster, while those growing under other shade trees have an average of 15 berries per cluster upon maturity. Robust vegetative growth and better fruiting performance were also observed.

While Sagada has been supplying the local market with coffee for years, growers can still produce more with the improvement of some traditional practices and adoption of S&T interventions.

Since coffee is known as a mere backyard crop in Sagada, production in the area is relatively low. Data show that Mountain Province is planted to a total of 1,035,600 coffee trees with an average yield of only 0.3 kilograms of green beans per tree.

Relevant S&T-based interventions will enable quality and maximum production volume. For instance, growing coffee under the shade and increasing areas of production will increase marketable green coffee beans in the coming years.