Three-term Senator and Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda continues to provide support to the growing coffee farmers of Antique. Just recently, P600,000 worth of processing equipment was recently turned over to the coffee farmers of Bulalacao Calooy Tula-tula Sikap Organization (BCTSO) in Sibalom. This is part of the allocation under the Department of Agriculture’s Provincial Agricultural Commodity Development Program when Legarda was Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance.

       BCTSO received one unit of coffee roaster, seven units of portable mini chainsaw for the coffee farmers of Brgy. Bulalacao, five units for Brgy. Calooy, and three units for Brgy. Tula-tula. Last year, the organization also received equipment such as dehuller, coffee roaster, multipurpose dryer, mini chainsaw, vacuum sealer, crates, and green bags through the Department of Trade and Industry’s Shared Services Facilities, a program supported as well by Legarda when she was then Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance.

       Chairman Alejandro Gonzaga of Brgy. Calooy and President of BCTSO expressed his gratitude to Legarda for her continuous support to their association. The equipment, according to Gonzaga, will greatly help the coffee farmers make quality coffee and increase their production.

       Through Legarda’s initiative under the Department of Agriculture, the construction of coffee processing center in Sibalom is ongoing and will soon be launched. When completed, the processing center will help the farmers of the three upland barangays improve their coffee products which are now classified in the national level as Grade I coffee or premium coffee bean.

       On the other hand, Legarda also provided budgetary support to the members of the Flores Integrated Social Farmers and Forestry Association (FISFFA) and Simbola Integrated Social Forestry Association (SISFA) in Culasi for the provision of equipment – coffee dehuller machine with bean sizer and polisher, coffee pulper machine, generator, water purifier, form fill seal, horizontal band sealer, digital weighing scale, stainless tables, and grinding and roasting machines – under the DTI’s Shared Services Facility.

       As principal sponsor and author of the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises or the MSME Law, Legarda ensures to provide budgetary support to MSMEs and local farmers through coordination with different government agencies in promoting sustainable livelihood in the province.

       Coffee is among Antique’s major commodities under high value crops, including mango, banana, coffee, cacao, upland and lowland vegetables, sugarcane, peanut mungbeans, cutflower and spices.

       Last year, 69.27 metric tons of coffee were generated by the local coffee farmers in the province. With Legarda’s support, coffee production is expected to increase providing more livelihood opportunities to marginalized farmers and indigenous peoples belonging to Iraynon Bukidnon.

        “There is so much potential for our coffee industry in Antique. We have to support our local farmers and coffee growers in order for them to have the economic empowerment they need. Through our continuous support and coordination with different government agencies, we can make Antique coffee one of the best in the country,” Legarda stated.