Farmers and entrepreneurs in Benguet have the potential to compete globally but they need to further improve quality in their production.
Tayao Farms operator Mirafel Tayao-Afuyog underscored this when she graced the opening of the agri-fair of the Adivay Festival on Nov. 16 as guest of honor and speaker.
She also encouraged farmers and entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities to learn to upgrade their farms and businesses.
Afuyog said there are programs from various agencies including the departments of Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, and Agriculture that extend help to farmers.
She related her family’s experience during the height of the pandemic, where they shifted their focus on production particularly on their top product, Arabica coffee.
As the operator of Kai Cafe in La Trinidad, Afuyog said they have started to serve their own coffee beans, which was slowly recognized by their customers.
Customers began asking to buy their coffee grounds, which led them to concentrate on Arabica coffee production in their farm in Atok, which they eventually called Tayao Farms.
“As farmers of this generation, we need to continue moving forward together. We need to enhance our quality without compromising our own culture,” Afuyog said.
Farmers need to produce more than the raw materials and to venture into creating by-products as well.
Tayao Farms have a range of products: green coffee beans, Arabica coffee in bags, as well as premium Arabica in drip bags, and its recently launched coffee cascara tea.
The cascara tea makes use of the dried Arabica coffee cherry or pulp into a tea. Cascara tea is widely served and marketed around the world along with the regular coffee beans.
She said they continue to innovate on various by-products for coffee such as coffee grounds as soap, to make full use of the coffee.
Together with her farmer parents and siblings in the research department, they help each other operate the farm and their cafe business. She is also active in the enhancement programs and activities led by government agencies.
“Let us collaborate with other micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs because there is power in numbers. Let us join forces to develop our products and push each other forward to be globally competitive together,” she said.
Farmers also need to learn how to market their products, urging them to not only rely on traditional forms of marketing.
Virtual marketing has made it accessible for farmers to get in contact with their customers anywhere else in the world.
Afuyog urged the farmers, entrepreneurs, officials, and agency personnel to push for quality local produce, one that is still anchored in the cultural identity of the province. – Ofelia C. Empian