PH’s first official coffee industry roadmap to be launched in Baguio City on November 23

BAGUIO CITY –-The Department of Trade and Industry – Cordillera Regional Office (DTI-CAR) on Thursday announced the launching of the country’s first official coffee industry roadmap during the 2nd Philippine Coffee Conference to be held on November 23 at Hotel Supreme here.

DTI-CAR Regional Director Myrna P. Pablo said the roadmap will include projections on the direction and output of coffee production in the country from 2017 to 2022.

“The coffee market is growing, but coffee production in the country has been consistently decreasing since the 1990s, associating ageing trees and poor farming practices as the leading causes, “Pablo said.

The decrease in production was also attributed to the conversion of coffee producers to production of crops with quick returns and shorter cultivation process like corn, Pablo added.

She said that some farmers are also being faced with the dilemma of their children’s refusal to become farmers, opting instead to go to school and be employed.

This is the first time to officially present and launch the country’s coffee roadmap, Pablo said.

“The country is still struggling with a lot of challenges. But, we are working closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA), evaluating the coffee value chain and the need to increase coffee production and seek provision for facilities,” Pablo said.

She said that there is a need to increase the plantation area to improve the production.

“A hectare of land has a total density of 1,000 trees and only 300 coffee seedlings can be planted per hectare”, Pablo explained.

The DTI official cited a Philippine company (Nestlé Philippines), a leading nutrition, health and wellness company, which imports 75,000 metric tons of its coffee requirements every year, way above the country’s total production of 30,000 metric tons per year.

Pablo said that in the 1800s, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee in the world.

She said the Philippines is no longer in the list of top exporters of coffee but continues to trade coffee worldwide, namely Germany, United States of America (USA), Singapore and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The country’s production target is 35,000 metric tons per year and an annual increase of 10 percent. The goal now is to increase production by 5,000 metric tons every year, Pablo said.

At present, she said the top coffee bean producers are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia but some of these countries grow their beans inorganically.

“Philippine coffee is organically grown – organic production is sustained from the soil to the crop, to improve and maintain its quality,” Pablo said.

She said that the Cordillera Region produces the best Arabica coffee in the country.

“CAR was recently awarded the best Shared Service Facility (SSF) in the North and the overall best SSF in the Philippines,” the DTI official said.

Pablo also said that DTI aims to revive the coffee industry and regain the country’s early distinction as among the major coffee producers in Asia.

Geared towards sustaining and promoting a wider base that will provide employment and better income to the coffee industry, Pablo hopes that the forthcoming three-day Philippine Coffee Conference will serve as a growth and learning environment for coffee farmers and the younger generation as well.

“There has to be a massive education for farmers and the younger generation,” Pablo said.

She added that the best local and relevant speakers have been invited to the conference.

Activities include knowledge-sharing, coffee updates, buyer-producer matching, tasting of coffee products from 16 regions of the country and barista show.

The conference is jointly funded by DA and DTI, and admission is free with the registration conducted in all DTI regional offices.

Meanwhile, Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Cordillera Regional National Greening Program (DENR-CAR-NGP) focal person Imelda Casiwan said NGP will continue its appeal for more project areas for coffee plantation.

Casiwan called on all coffee farmers to get in touch with the DENR and have their areas included as project areas.

“Coffee growers or farmers associations or groups with at least 15 members are qualified for inclusion and will receive financial assistance for nursery establishment plus plantation maintenance and protection for three years, amounting to PHP15,000 per hectare,” Casiwan added. Merriam Del Rosario/PNA-northboundasia.com