Sweet scent of success for Hojap coffee
Hojap Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Hojap MPC) manager Shirley Tagtag shares how the cooperative grew to become one of the leading coffee producers in Asipulo, Ifugao, through the hard work and determination of its members.
"We started as a sari-sari store na ang binebenta namin ay basic needs ng mga tao," Tagtag said.
In 2002, the cooperative expanded its business to include lending services to help their farmer- members with their needs. According to Tagtag, Hojap MPC started venturing into the coffee industry in 2009 when its members participated in an educational trip in Cavite organized by the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Trade and Industry.
"When they came home, nakita naman nila (participants) na may kape na sa Asipulo so why not start with coffee," she added.
After years of catering orders for trade fairs, Hojap in 2014 began its regular coffee production.
“All year round available na ang (coffee) processing and we also started selling green coffee beans,” she said.
To help their farmer members, Hojap MPC conducts trainings; provides lending services to avail agricultural loans; and sells the produce to shield them from unscrupulous traders.
As shared by Tagtag, the cooperative aims to bring back the interest of the people to coffee farming.
“Nung bumagsak ang presyo noong 1980s, napabayaan ng farmers natin ang kape. If we give them sure market and sure price na hindi naman sila malulugi, I’m sure mae-encourage sila (magtanim).”
Hojap MPC, a partner of Peace and Equity Foundation in the development of Asipulo coffee farmers, currently has 962 members. They have been marketing their coffee products like Kesi’melan coffee not only within the province but also to specialty shops, cafes and supermarkets in Manila. HOJAP consolidates the local farmers’ harvests of green coffee beans, and fresh and dried coffee berries for volume-based incentives and better prices.
Hojap MPC is based in the municipality of Asipulo, Ifugao which hosts the biggest coffee planting area in the province with about 1,394 hectares, roughly 55% of the province’s total coffee area. The coop named itself as “Hojap”, an Ayangan term which means Haliap, the barangay where they are currently operating.