PAKAPE mentors, initially honed through the PAKAPE Project, underwent another rigorous virtual and on-site training focused on farm and organizational management from February 20-22 and February 26 – March 1, 2024.

The PAKAPE Mentors’ retooling workshop is vital in their role within their respective organizations as they lead initiatives and cascade their acquired knowledge to their fellow members. 

Initiated online, the workshop provided a thorough discussion on organizational and development planning. Headed by NCRDEC Director Engr. Gerry M. Castillo, each mentor was tasked to participate in a vision exercise, ideally showcasing what they aim to achieve within their organization in both short- and long-term periods. 

This was later followed by a lecture on Integrated Pest and Disease Management facilitated by Dr. Jonathan R. Digma, a professor from the Department of Biological Sciences. He provided insights into the importance of a sustainable approach in pest control as well as in utilizing bio-control agents in the field such as Beauveria bassiana. 

The second day of the virtual lecture was handled by Ms. Novelyn Valerio, a farm manager at Finca De Garces, Bukidnon. From responsibly using inorganic inputs to emphasizing soil health through integrated nutrient management, she guided the PAKAPE mentors in fully understanding why following good agricultural practices is a must in sustaining climate-smart coffee production.

A week following the online series, mentors hailing from the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, and Negros Occidental were accommodated at the Hostel Tropicana at Cavite State University from February 26 to March 1. This is to serve as an avenue for practicum sessions where revisiting concepts through hands-on exercises from the field will take place. As coffee farmers who are both members and officers of their respective organizations, the on-site retooling workshop also provides for intense learning sessions and discussions on coffee establishment, post-harvest handling, and attaining the best coffee quality within the region’s brewscape. The week-long practicum training was facilitated by Ms. Noverio and Ms. Emeline S. Sabado, Director of the Filipino Coffee Institute. 

PAKAPE mentors’ commitment to their roles is thus measured through their active participation and engagement in trainings organized within and outside their organization, particularly in their ability to cascade their learnings to other coffee farmers within their communities. On top of this, some PAKAPE mentors will also be tapped to serve as resource persons for capacitating the target beneficiaries of the CFVC Project Phase II across MIMAROPA. 

The workshop also served as a platform for important discussions such as gender equality and social inclusivity which was led by Mr. King David Agreda of CvSU Cavite City Campus, and proved to be integral in ensuring fair labor, sufficient access to information, and equal opportunities among men and women in the coffee industry.

As a concluding activity, a coffee farm tour was organized in partnership with the Barista Academy of Asia (BCAA), Curve Coffee Collaborator, and Equilibrium Inter-trade on March 1, 2024, in San Pablo, Laguna. Facilitated by Mr. Amin Ghasemzadeh, a Certified Q Grader and Sensory Instructor, PAKAPE mentors were engaged in another learning spree together with some members of the project management team. Here, participants were keen to experience a cupping scene similar to that of the annual Philippine Coffee Quality Competition.  

As the tour commenced with an overview of the farm production area and their coffee processing facility, the cupping exercise, later on, provided an enriching experience to PAKAPE mentors as they familiarized their palate with flavors and nuances that are noteworthy among quality coffee grown throughout the country. As coffee mentors, their improved competencies will certainly benefit not just the organization they serve, but as well as the communities they are a part of. Hence, the PAKAPE IT forward movement pushes beyond boundaries to create a lasting ripple of change. (Text and photos from the official Facebook page of the National Coffee Research, Development and Extension Center)