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When Renny Boy Takyawan saw his mother-in-law traditionally depulped the dried Robusta cherries, he knew it had potential to engage into the coffee farming business. He decided to focus on farming after his work contract ended with the humanitarian organization.
“My mother-in-law told me that they have 1.5 hectares of land that has coffee trees. I was determined to venture into social entrepreneurship,” he said.
Takyawan is a 33 year-old Tagakaulo coffee farmer from Malungon, Sarangani Province. He and his wife Baby Lyne decided to name their coffee brand “Inag.” It is a Tagakaulo term that means light. Their coffee business only started in 2019. The coffee farm was entrusted to them by his wife’s parents.
“Inag was supposed to be the name of our child. Even though she was not given to us because of miscarriage, she would remain an inspiration. We also wanted a name that is related to our tribe,” Takyawan said.
It is easy for him to love farming because he grew up with parents who are farmers. He also likes learning new farming technology. As a farmer, he values the land because it produces good crops.
As a part of the indigenous people (IP) and an advocate, land is highly valuable and special. The IPs, like the Tagakaulo tribe, have deep spiritual, cultural, social and economic connections with their lands, territories and resources, which are basic to their identity and existence itself.
“If we take care of our lands it will provide good harvests. If we put true value on it, it would help solve our socio-economic problems. The next generation will also benefit it,” he said.
Even though he is new in the local coffee scene, he proves that he has a lot to offer to help the coffee industry in the Soccsksargen region. Currently, he is the chairperson of the Sarangani Coffee Industry Development Council.
“One of the motivations why we engage into coffee farming is to help my fellow small farmers to increase their income and to produce quality coffee beans. We envision Sarangani to be one of the producers of premium Robusta and Arabica coffee in the country,” Takyawan said.
As a social enterprise, Inag Coffee also sources Robusta beans from local farmer organizations and individual coffee growers, mostly members of the Tagakaulo tribe. Takyawan teaches these coffee farmers good agricultural practices to ensure that they will produce quality coffee beans. He believes that this will result in better prices for the produce and greater income for the farmers and their families.
In the span of three years, Takyawan’s Inag coffee generated enough awareness because of its accomplishments. For example, this neophyte coffee brand got the highest score in the SKCOFFEE Project Localized Cupping and Grading Competition held at Isulan, Sultan Kudarat from January 24 to 28, 2022. It aims to help assess and improve the quality of coffee produced by participating farmers.
A total of 22 coffee samples throughout the region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) were tested through coffee green bean grading, roasting, and cupping.
The five-day coffee quality evaluation activity was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Sultan Kudarat and made possible through the help of ACDI/VOCA technical coordinator Emeline Sabado and a number of Q-graders and roasters in Region 12.
“We still can’t believe that Inag coffee got the top score. Our intention for sending samples to the competition was only for our coffee to be validated and to gather suggestions from Q-graders on how we could improve our process,” Takyawan said.
This achievement becomes an inspiration to them being new in the business and proof that there is potential for the coffee industry in Malungon and Sarangani Province.
“This achievement is a boost to our goal of inspiring other coffee farmers not only in Malungon but also in the entire Sarangani Province,” he said.
Takyawan aims to represent the region for the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC). It is an annual green coffee competition that seeks to increase the consciousness of Filipino farmers on coffee quality and encourages them to improve their competitiveness in the domestic and international markets.
According to its website, the Department of Agriculture (DA), DTI, ACDI/VOCA, Barista and Coffee Academy of Asia (BCAA), and most recently, the Philippine Coffee Guild (PCG) have organized PCQC since 2017. They seek to promote Philippine coffee locally and internationally, specifically Arabica and Robusta. The competition uses the Coffee Quality Institute’s (CQI) internationally accepted grading and profiling protocols.
DTI Sarangani supports Inag Coffee through its Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (Rapid Growth) project.
DA SarGen also provides technical assistance to Takyawan.
“It’s my advocacy to help other local farmers to be empowered. I hope they will get inspired by our farming efforts and initiatives,” Takyawan said.
Originally published in SunStar Davao