By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Candelaria Gallardo Adanza, or Larrie for short, used to do office work in the United States for about 30 years. When she came home to Anahawan, Southern Leyte, her life took a turn as she found herself growing coffee instead of facing the paperwork that she was accustomed to.
Never had she imagined that she would become a coffee farmer who has 2.3 hectares of land allocated for growing robusta coffee.
In part 1 of the article, Adanza shared the story of how she got engaged in coffee farming and what she did to familiarize herself with the process. Here, she shares some tips on how she grows her coffee plants and how her farm was the first to have a processing plant in the area.
Intercropping with banana and coconut
Following her initial plan of growing coffee alongside the coconuts already present in the lots in Anahawan that her family owns, Adanza intercropped her coffee plants with coconuts and added bananas to the mix as well.
Not only did this increase the productivity of the lots, but it also gave several advantages in helping the coffee plants grow.
For example, the coconuts that are processed into coco coir and coco peat can be used for mulching and as a medium for growing seedlings, respectively. Coco coir as mulch also helps improve air circulation in the soil and also serves as a soil conditioner that gives the coffee plants more nutrients.
As for the bananas, these provide potassium and moisture to the soil when the trunks decompose.
“We cut the trunks one meter from the ground level after harvesting and leave them there to decompose so that the nutrients will go straight to the soil for the coffee plants to absorb,” Adanza said.
Other than being a good companion plant for her coffee plants, Adanza added that the bananas are used for personal consumption and as a way to augment their income.
Other ways in caring for coffee plants
“Coffee plants [also] need TLC: tender, loving care like most plants,” Adanza said. Her way of showing these to her plants is by cleaning their surroundings to make sure that they won’t have any competition for nutrients as well as safe from any pests or illnesses.
Another way that Adanza cares for her plants is by giving her coffee plants organic fertilizer every three months to help boost their growth and development without the use of harmful chemicals.
To properly apply the fertilizer, Adanza said that they first clean the area of the tree measuring about a diameter to clear any weeds that could delay the progress of the coffee trees.
“We source the materials nearby. We go around town looking for cow and carabao dung which we use for fertilizer. We also get ipil-ipil and madre de cacao, or kakawate, since these are nitrogen fixers in the soil,” Adanza said.
She added that they also don’t use any commercial insecticides and pesticides on their coffee plants. They just maintain clean surroundings to keep these plants healthy.
But she shared that her coffee plantation doesn’t completely follow natural farming principles since she still uses inorganic fertilizer to maintain the banana trees.
The first processing plant in the area
Adanza is also a member and president of the Anahawan Farmers Coffee and Cacao Association, Inc. (AFCCGAI) where she is fondly known as Laring. Her success in coffee farming has empowered her fellow farmers to follow suit and discover the potential of these crops.
The association includes members that are big on coffee and cacao farming since their area produces large amounts of coffee, cacao, and jackfruit.
Seeing as how Adanza’s success in coffee farming inspired other farmers in their association, the Department of Agriculture’s Regional Office 8 gave them the opportunity to have a processing plant that could be used to process their produce.
It was a unanimous decision that Adanza’s farm should be the location for the first-ever processing plant in the region.
With around P2M in budget, Adanza was given a roasting machine, grinder, chiller, and other equipment needed for the processing plant along with the building construction.
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also showed their support by helping me out with the packaging and label so I can better market my produce,” Adanza said.
By late 2019, the processing plant was officially turned over to Adanza by the DA-RO 8. She wasted no time in producing processed coffee that she now sells to the market.
A good farmer is also a ‘seminarist’
“Coffee is one of the top commodities in the world market and there is a non-stop need for it. People are always looking for coffee. Aspiring coffee farmers can’t say that there’s no money in coffee because farmers have the potential to earn from the crop,” Adanza said.
Yet, the demand for coffee can’t be properly met without the proper knowledge on coffee farming.
“To become a good [coffee] farmer, you also have to be a good ‘seminarist,’” Adanza jokes. “This means being active in attending seminars. Where the seminars are, you have to be there,” she said.
By going to various training and seminars, Adanza said that one could broaden their knowledge about farming which is beneficial in more ways than one.
The owner of Adanza Coffee Farms has visited other areas such as Manila, Davao, and Baguio where she attended coffee summits where she learned a great deal about coffee farming from the sessions that she attended.
She hopes that her endeavors will inspire and inform other farmers on how they can maximize the use of their agricultural land and therefore increase both productivity and income.
Adanza is proof of the old Filipino saying of “Pag may tiyaga, may nilaga.” But in her case, it’s coffee beans that she manages to harvest from all her hard work and efforts.
For more information, visit Adanza Coffee Farms on Facebook.