Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bukidnon organic corn coffee captures Manila cafe markets

Bukidnon organic corn coffee captures Manila café markets
PIA News Agency 
October 5, 2010

Valencia City (6 October) - Organically-grown coffee made from sun-dried native yellow corn grains by the celebrated farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon has invaded and captured the upscale cafés at the heart of the nation's capital.

This in turn would provide more sources of livelihood to the families of Northern Mindanao's small agricultural entrepreneurs as they aim to ramp up big time in the commercial coffee markets of Metro Manila.

Through its earlier business name E-Farmers, the group behind Sumilao Corn Coffee has come a long way after becoming one of the top winners of the 2009 edition of Business in Development (BiD) Challenge Philippines.

The BiD Challenge, initiated by the Netherlands-based BiD Network, is an annual international online business plan competition with participants from Africa to Latin America promoting poverty reduction through enterprise development.

Here in the Philippines, as the only country in Asia actively participating in the BiD Challenge, the Phil. Business for Social Progress (PBSP) has been organizing the local leg of the competition since 2007.

Individually packed in 200-gram carton boxes, Sumilao Corn Coffee products have been shipped to Manila since early this year.

They are now being marketed at a specialty bakeshop near Greenhills, San Juan and at a mall-based coffeeshop near Buendia in Makati, according to one of the business partners who is now based in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental north of Bukidnon.

Maria Carmela Sue "Cheenee" Otarra of Sumilao Agri-Enterprise (SAE) Inc. also revealed that she and her business partners are currently arranging a deal to promote their corn coffee at an organic goods store at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and at an organic coffeeshop in Davao.

Sumilao Corn Coffee is being sold at the biblically-inspired 12 Baskets Bakeshop in Little Baguio in San Juan City since August this year, Otarra said. She added that their corn coffee product is also being brewed and roasted at the 18 Days Roaster café inside the Cash & Carry Mall in Makati starting late April to early May this year.

The 18 Days café also sells and promotes the world-renowned products of Arengga Bote Central Inc., a finalist in the BiD Challenge Phils. 2007.

Arengga is the manufacturer and distributor of the famous Coffee Alamid, made out of the aromatic droppings from chewed coffee beans of the Philippine civet cat, called alamid in the Tagalog regions.

For their corn coffee, SAE partners have been eyeing EchoStore, its fellow BiD Challenge Phils. 2009 finalist which promotes and sells organic goods at the ground floor of Serendra Piazza at The Fort in Taguig.

SAE is also eyeing the newly-renamed, newly-transferred Coffee for Peace (formerly Peacebuilding Community Café) in Davao among its organic coffee brew. CfP sells and promotes traditional and civet coffee beans from the mountains of the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon and the mountain ranges of Davao and Cotabato in Eastern Mindanao.

"Our corn coffee is special because it's caffeine-free, all-organic and all natural, with no additives and no preservatives," Otarra said in an interview with PBSP at the corn coffee plant and corn dryer farm in Sitio Fatima, Zone 6 in Brgy. San Vicente, Sumilao.

She said carton boxes of corn coffee are being packed in net contents of 200 grams each out of a daily production of 40 kilograms or a total of 200 cartons.

Of this, 75 percent or 30 kilos (150 cartons) are sent via Seagate Shipping to Luzon, while the remaining 25 percent or 10 kilos (50 cartons) remain to be sold in Bukidnon or the nearby provinces in Mindanao.

Her e-Farmers business partner Ron Gabriel Gabunado early this year accepted a cheque from PBSP-BiD with a grant amounting to P100,000 for their 2009 entry. Last year, their corn coffee business plan also won for them the amount of P20,000 from the British Council, the United Kingdom's international cultural relations body.

"Your purchase of our corn coffee would help farmers who had walked more than 2,000 kilometers from their province of Bukidnon to Metro Manila to claim their 144-hectare land through the agrarian reform program," Otarra said, citing the Sumilao farmers group called Task Force 144 in reference to the total land hectares and their October 2007 struggle marching from Mindanao to Luzon.

With 134 hectares of land at their disposal as they plant organic farm crops, Sumilao farmers are still raising high hopes for the remaining 10 hectares, which they said is currently being used as a piggery farm for the hog products of Monterey, a subsidiary of San Miguel Foods Corp.

The farmers stressed that since April 2008, they have been organically growing corn, cassava, and other vegetables. "Our corn coffee is made from carefully-selected, organic native yellow corn kernels here in Sumilao, where local farmers traditionally prepare them into flavorful drink," Otarra explained.

According to its label, Sumilao Corn Coffee is "meticulously roasted to perfection," and its health benefits "come from its 'untouched' organic corn, ensuring that no harmful chemicals from fertilizers, pesticides, or gene enhancers enter you body with every cup".

For her part, Otarra said the next challenge would be to combine or mix the flavors and aroma of traditional coffee beans such as the arabica and robusta varieties to give the corn coffee an additional distinct blend, aside from its present chocolate-peanut taste and scent.

For now, all it needs is for those with coffee makers to brew 3-4 tablespoonfuls of Sumilao Corn Coffee for every two cups of cold, fresh water and adjust according to taste, and for those with kettles to boil 5-6 tablespoonfuls of this corn coffee for every 10 cups of fresh water, Otarra said. (PBSP-Mitchel Confesor)