Story & photo by Manuel T. Cayon / Mindanao Bureau Chief
DAVAO CITY—A consortium of government agencies engaged in research and development work has tapped the Filipino customary time of revelry and gathering to promote and advocate the adaption of technology and mechanization to farmers, this time to coffee farmers, in the Davao region.
Farmers were treated in August to a technology galore—from good agricultural practices and presentation of researches, to available gadgets and machinery—to enable them to graduate from farm cultivation to commercial production, not only of coffee but of the other crops and livestock, as well.
Farmers were introduced or reminded again on collaboration of coffee farmers and producers and the academic institutions in the localities, the influence of coffee harvest, postharvest and processing equipment to coffee quality and efficiency, as well as the market potential of producing fine robusta and specialty arabica coffees.
The research and development-focused Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (Smaardec) got experts to talk on current researches like the varietal study of arabica coffee on Mount Apo highland and the market systems approach to coffee industry development.
With farmers cultivating other crops aside from coffee, and raising animals, other experts also tackled issues on biofumigation technology on potato production, the use of KD fertilizer in rice production and other crops, a package of technology on goat production and an environmental topic on coastal management policy.
The lectures were given during the Coffee Fiesta, a Smaardec regional symposium on research and development highlights at the Digos City campus of the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (Spamast).
The event was set up in fiesta-like atmosphere, from the indigenous dances and music by the welcoming group of students at the campus gate, to the array of booths of crop researches and technologies available to farmers, and buntings and educational forum at the gymnasium.
“You have to craft new ways to sell technology and machines. The fiesta celebration among Filipinos could be one of the best ways to get the message across in a very jovial mood,” said Marita A. Carlos, director of the Advanced Communication Division of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-Pcaard).
The Coffee Fiesta was conceived by DOST-Pcaard to create an avenue conducive for acceptance of farming technology and mechanization.
There would be other fiestas to be held for other crops and livestock, including the introduction of halal goat technology, she said.
A female farmer from Matanao, Davao del Sur, said she raised a few heads of goats at her backyard but admitted that her coffee were not producing enough.
“I was not about to come here but I accompanied my neighbor, just the same, because I don’t have anything to do yet in the farm,” she said.
But her attending the Coffee Fiesta was providential. “I never knew that there would be potentially good income if only I just tended to my coffee well,” she added.
Besides, she said, “my goats would be additional income, as well because of the tips I got from the lectures.”
Besides lectures, organizers also conducted “techno-cliniquing” between the experts and the farmers, as they also distributed planting materials to the farmers.
The Coffee Fiesta also held a coffee thesis pitch in among students in the province.
The Smaardec said the activity was to reach out and disseminate farming technologies to as many farmers and fisherfolk as possible, to bring farmers and fishermen and their families in the provinces to a yearly regional symposium on research and development.
“Now on its 12th year, this year’s Smaardec forum provides options to address inadequacies and to address the urgent issues that threatened productivity of our small and medium farmers. As a bottom-up process of consultation and dialogue between farmers, fisherfolks, rural producers’ organizations and researchers/experts, the forum is aimed at facilitating effective delivery of relevant and timely technologies to clients, technologies that have potential for adoption/utilization,” the Smaardec said.