The Bugkalot are a friendly, hardworking, resourceful people that have traditionally survived on subsistence farming* and forest crops. They have limited access to technology and credit, and have not been able to utilize the vast natural resource within their ancestral domain. As a result, outsiders have come in and taken advantage of them for many years. There is also currently a 90%-95% unemployment rate in the community, so there is so much more work to be done. The coffee plantation is a vehicle for the Bugkalot community to come together, learn about sustainable farming practices, develop community-level integrated agricultural operations, provide jobs, and practice commercial-scale farming.
In 2014, Bugkalot Coffee Company helped the community organize a cooperative, the Bugkalot Casecnan Coffee Producers Cooperative (BCCPC). The cooperative has been central to the establishment and development of the coffee plantation. It has been growing its organizational capability, operational expertise, public & private network and establishing additional small businesses along the way. They have even re-organized into a multipurpose cooperative, the Bugkalot Coffee Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BCGMPC), with more than 300 members. They still have a long way to go, but they have also come so far in just 6 short years.
* Subsistence farming is a form of farming in which nearly all of the crops or livestock raised are used to maintain the farmer and his family, leaving little, if any, surplus for sale or trade.