Davao Lawyer Puts Up Own Dream Coffee Farm
His dream project, a four-hectare coffee and banana farm parched 700 meters above sea level and with the majestic Mt. Apo as backdrop, is slowly taking shape.
Leuterio’s farm has been built using the technology of Nescafe, a valuable knowledge he got after attending the leading coffee brand’s free three-week coffee specialist course at the Nestle Experimental and Demonstration Farm (NEDF) in Tagum, Davao del Norte, early this year.
Aside from the free training with board and lodging – from a three-day basic to a three-week comprehensive coffee specialist course 2 the NEDF offers free pamphlets, brochures, manuals and other coffee farming literature. The NEDF likewise sells coffee planting materials such as seedlings and cuttings at cost price.
In addition, the NEDF will send their agronomist for farm inspection whenever it deems fit.
“Nescafe is really supportive of farmers who want to get into coffee farming,” reveals Leuterio, who works as a school official of the family-owned Holy Child Computer College in Davao City.
“I can call up their agronomists anytime I have questions and I can also buy from the NEDF several planting materials in relatively small amount – like a 30-yard long plastic cover for my coffee nursery – which can only be bought wholesale elsewhere,” he adds.
TURNING SERIOUS. Leuterio originally planned a leisure farm that includes a little of everything: anthurium, banana, coffee, sunflower, even goats, only to find out later on that it is not economically viable.
“Nescafe points me out to the right direction where my farm can be rewarding economically,” he says.
In line with Nescafe’s Coffee-Based Sustainable Farming System (CBSFS) under the worldwide drive of Sustainable Agriculture Initiative of Nestle (SAIN), the NEDF suggests planting of secondary crops according to current local market demand as secondary income between coffee harvests.
Leuterio has since focused on coffee, peanuts and lakatan, a variety of banana. In fact, he has harvested and sold 600 kilos of lakatan even before his first coffee cherries have bloomed.
His priorities, however, shifted when he realized that the farmers he has been hiring for help do not know anything about coffee farming. Consequently, he sponsored the trip of 16 farmers to the NEDF and hoped to educate them with proper skills and practices.
“I feel we really have to educate the farmers in the grassroots level in order for them to become more productive,” he says.
One common malpractice that has to be addressed is the harvesting of immature cherries.
“Some of them do not know the importance of selecting and handpicking ripe coffee cherries. You have to make them realize that immature cherries cause substandard coffee and will cost the farm owner thousands of pesos in the long run. That’s why we have agreed to pay premium price on ripe coffee cherries come harvest time,” tells Leuterio.
He has already integrated his own coffee nursery into his farm to address the pressing need for coffee planting materials not just for his farm but the neighboring coffee farmers as well. By the end of this year, he expects 30,000 rooted coffee cuttings to be ready.
“My coffee farm has opened a lot of possibilities for me and my community,” says Leuterio, who is working on a bigger coffee farm in Arakan, Bukidnon, together with 25 farmers. It may include sunflower whose seeds are a source of ethanol, a vital component in biofuel. “More importantly, my coffee farm enables me to reach out to other people.”