2015 Planning and BCCPC Election

Here’s the latest update on the plantation:

With the end of planting season last year, we undertook maintenance activities for the plantation, getting ring weeding done for the coffee trees and clearing some of the re-growth. We also pruned the coffee trees to help them grow better by getting rid of sick or dried branches & leaves so that the trees can focus nutrients on the healthy, useful branches & leaves.

2015 Planning

This first few months of 2015, we have been working closely with our new technical consultant to prepare for this year’s activities. We have also been focused on capability building with the Bugkalot cooperative. We conducted several training sessions with the cooperative leadership and have several more sessions lined up. We’ve provided technical training and will be conducting ongoing skills training as well.

As we went through the 2015 plan, we made sure to involve the cooperative since they know the land, climate and people better. We want to ensure we utilize their knowledge better, since this helps the project and also provides a good training ground for them to practice the skills they are learning.

BCCPC Election

On March 18, BCCPC (the cooperative formed by our tribal partners) had their first annual general assembly for the year and conducted their first official election. Five new board members were elected (the rest were re-elected) and the different committees were set up. They also had year-end reports for their first year of operation and invited several VIPs from the municipality. It was encouraging to see how far they’ve come in just one year. They (and we) still have a long way to go, but we’re excited with the progress we’ve made and are happy with what we’ve gotten done!

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Plantation Update

It’s already November and we now have approximately 80,000-85,000 coffee seedlings planted on an area of approximately 85 hectares! There are another 100,000 seedlings in the nursery waiting to be planted next rainy season. We have stopped planting this year, as rainy season comes to an end. We will now begin the management & maintenance phase for the plantation, and will expect the first harvest (from the seedlings planted this year) in 2016. We will resume planting next rainy season, when the rains come again.

Throughout the months of July to October, BCC created jobs for more than 200 Bugkalot farmers and we will continue to provide jobs for about 50-75 farmers as we move to the management & maintenance phase of the plantation. This will be done through the cooperative we helped the Bugkalot organize. The cooperative’s management team will continue to receive on-the-job training on managing a large scale business and learning basic management principles, while their members receive technical training on the various aspects of coffee growing.

Bugkalot Coffee Company believes in empowering the Bugkalot, not just by equipping and enabling them. This will provide longer term benefit in terms of stronger leaders with the experience to run their business without external micro-management. We have already seen significant benefit for the community by providing jobs and creating economy for the Bugkalot, and we look forward to even greater impact for the community as we develop & expand the plantation.

Planting Process

Since the last post, we’ve been moving quickly with the planting process. Here are some photos showing the various activities involved:

A view of the Bugkalot planting grounds up in the mountains

View of the Bugkalot plantation site up in the mountains

 

Markers in the ground

Layout – Markers in the ground identify where each tree will be planted

Coffee trees in poly bags taken out from the nursery, waiting to be planted into the ground

Coffee seedlings in plastic polybags taken from the nursery, waiting to be planted

Digging holes for the trees

Hole Digging

Adding organic fertilizers

Adding organic fertilizer and mixing it with the soil

Putting the coffee tree into the ground

Putting the coffee tree into the ground

Final product! Now for the rest of the 100 hectares...

Final product!

 

Clearing and Planting

Latest Plantation Update: We have started the planning process and are well underway with the initial clearing! Equipment and supplies for land preparation, layout and planting have been purchased and delivered, and we are working quickly to start getting the trees transferred from the nursery and planted into the ground.

Our hope is that before the end of rainy season, we will have coffee trees covering at least 100 hectares of Bugkalot land, aiming to hit our target of 200 hectares.

Bolos and Sickles

Bolos and Sickles

Shovels

Shovels

Hole Diggers

Hole Diggers

Coffee Growing At A Glance

There are four varieties of coffee – Arabica, Liberica (or Barako), Excelsa, and Robusta. Robusta is the primary variety used in instant coffee (~70% cheaper than Arabica), though other varieties are also blended in, in some cases.

Coffee CherriesCoffee cherries are produced 8-9 months after the tree flowers. The cherries are picked (strip picked or selectively picked) and then processed. All outer layers (skin, pulp, parchment or hull, etc.) are removed, leaving only the seed (or bean). This is then roasted and either ground before packing or packaged as roasted beans.

Coffee is traded globally (ticker KC or EKC for electronic trading), and in its green bean state. A notice of certification is required for contracts to ensure the quality or grade of the beans. Pricing is typically based on USD cents per pound with contract sizes of 37,500 pounds1. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity globally, next to crude oil.2

The supply chain involves growers (producers), traders, exporters & importers, roasters, and retailers before reaching the consumer. Middlemen purchase direct from small farmers, while large growers/plantations often export their harvests or have direct arrangements for processing (roasting, packaging, etc.) sales and distribution. Green coffee beans are purchased by importers from exporters or large growers/plantations. Importers or traders may hold inventory, which is sold gradually through smaller orders. Roasters typically have the highest margins in the supply chain.

Within the chain, BCC is a coffee grower, producing green coffee beans. We will sell directly to Rocky Mountain Arabica Coffee Company (RMACC), thereby cutting out the middlemen. RMACC will then roast, package, and distribute to the consumer.

 

1Source: http://www.investopedia.com/university/commodities/commodities2.asp
Latest pricing: multiple sources provided for comparison – http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=other-mild-arabicas-coffee, http://www.nasdaq.com/markets/coffee.aspx

Almost Ready to Plant

This July, we hosted a group of visitors from the United States to visit the site, check out the nursery and survey the planned plantation site. The group spent a couple of days visiting the community, meeting people, learning about their history and getting to know the Bugkalot Coffee Company (BCC) team as well.

Having the team from the US visit the site was the perfect way to cap off the last few months’ work, as we have been partnering closely with BCCPC (the Bugkalot Casecnan Coffee Producers Cooperative), our partner in managing the plantation, as we prepare for planting season.

As rainy season begins, we have started clearing the land. We will then start laying out the individual plots and planting the 330,000 coffee trees. We aim to complete planting in 2-3 months.

The pictures below show the team learning about the community & Bugkalot culture, the latest images from the nursery and the newly built tribal style house the team built near the plantation.

The Bugkalot put on a presentation with their traditional gear to show the group some old hunting rituals from their tribal history

The Bugkalot put on a presentation with their traditional gear to demonstrate some old hunting rituals

The group learning about how the Bugkalot hunted and what weapons they used

The group learning about how the Bugkalot hunted and what weapons they used

A few little hiking areas in Nueva Vizcaya

Surveying nearby rock formations and rivers

The group checking out BCC's 200 hectres of land to clear and plant in the upcoming months

The team viewing the planned 200 hectare plantation site

Checking out the nursery

Inside the nursery

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We have more than 400,000 seedlings in the nursery waiting to be planted

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We also have additional seedlings to prepare for next year’s expansion and ensure we have more than enough seedlings for this year’s planting season

The plants are growing big and healthy!

The plants continue to do well. They look lush and healthy, and have grown to about 18-24″ in height

The newly built team house for Global Empowerment, with floors made of bamboo and rattan

The team’s newly built house, with traditional bamboo & rattan floors, to create the ‘tribal’ feel

View from the house porch

Early morning view from the BCC house

 

 

Potting Stage

We are currently preparing the nursery for the potting stage.  At this stage the seedlings are taken out of the beds they have been in and placed into individual pots.  Currently the nursery is undergoing construction to accommodate this stage of the process.  We are adding 3/4 of a hector of land to the nursery that will all be under black netting to shelter the plants from the sun.

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