Life is hard in the mountains. Only few plants can grow and fruit better in the high altitude and stony plateau of the community.
This is the reason why at least some of the villagers are seduced to plant prohibited plant like cannabis or marijuana. Farming cannabis is as easy as any other agricultural products and so conducive to cold place but it is unlawful. Did I say big earning, yes this is the best reason why they farm marijuana.
But it is illegal!
The cops visits and raided the farm and do some uprooting and the caretaker farmer could end up in jail.
But life is hard in the mountains and so some of the villagers in Licungan, Sugpon, Ilocos Sur cannot resist the temptation. Well, the bad impact is the bad image to the whole municipality.
Because of this, the Local Government of Sugpon is finding ways to help the residents of upland villages. Finding an easier and legal way of livelihood.
It is a farming community but the harvests of rice are not even enough for the village’s consumption..
Tanim Kalikasan, Inc. knows the answer. It’s the planting of coffee tree. Coffee is the ideal plant for cold and uphill place like the community of Licungan. Last year, we hike to Licungan.
THE BARANGAY LICUNGAN
Going to Licungan is not that easy. You have to be tough to climb, walk and cliff the off road uphilling the hills. Barangay Licungan is surrounded by barangays Tubaday of Santol, La Union and Culiang of Kibungan, Benguet.
From national highway in Balaoan, La Union, you have to travel by jeepney and elevate eastward particularly the snake road of barangay Ramut, Santol, La Union. The road ends in Palayeng Santol, La Union. From here, you have to walk to Licungan.
Two hours of walking through the slopping and uphilling path and rested to Amburayan river, the boundary of Palayeng and Licungan. One must crossed the wild river through rafting or swimming.
After that you have to hike scaling path going to Licungan for more than an hour. When you reach the top of the mountain, you will then see the landscape beauty of Licungan. Hidden from the civilization of modern world.
Located at more than 900 meters above sea level, the pristine beauty of the place can inspire you after 5 hours of riding, and 4 hours of walking and 5 minutes of rafting.
“Life here is hard,” said Benjamin Guzman, a resident of Licungan. No electricity, no internet, no cars. The biggest problems is how to transport the village products. For example, the bananas. The 50 kilos of banana placed in a sack needs to be lift and walked through Palayeng. Then you have to transport and fare the banana for P90 (P180 vice versa). They could sell the product at P5-10 per kilo because some traders begged for lower prices. The net is P100. The little amount the garnered will be then use to buy fish sauce (bagguong), laundry soap, bath soap, salt, vetsin (seasoning.
They also sell broom (buyboy), ginger and cassava, but just like banana, they can only defend on what their body can hold.
COFFEE SHOULD BE PLANTED IN LICUNGAN
One resident said, if only they can boost the harvested in rice. But the side of the mountain they are farming with rice is just small parcel of land. They got no money to buy fertilizers, insecticides, and other things needed in farming. The geographical location is the biggest culprit.
Mr. Sam Katagtakan, an agriculturist and member of TKI said the coffee is the best plant for Licungan considering its place and soil classification.
Coffee is best when planted in the elevation of 300 meters upward. Coffee is suited in Licungan because it is located 900 meters above sea level.
Mr. Katagkatan said the varieties of robusta, Arabica and barako coffee could best boost the fruiting of coffee. Arabica is best here because they can provide more seedlings and can have more fruit beans.
Coffee is planted 3 meters in between. After 3 years, it will start to bear flowers. Not too long it will grow into fruit, and will ripe when after two months.
Harvesting coffee could take twice a year. In one tree, a farmer can harvests up to 10 kilos. If farmer planted 100 trees, well, 1000 kilos of coffee.
Coffee bear fruits yearly. Giving importance to coffee plant like weeding and cutting unnecessary branch can also boost the fruits. Its called the process of rejuvenation. The older the coffee the more you need to branching out. Besides, harvesting in taller trees is uncomfortable.
Mr. Katagkatan said there is a big market, domestically and internationally, for coffee. The price of coffee beans is ranging from P150-P250 a kilo.
If a family in this community planted 200 trees of coffee, they could generate P30,000 of income. The more they plant the more the income. And the best thing is it is easier to hold and to transport.
Yeah, coffee is legal unlike the cannabis where they could end up in jail.###