MANILA, Jan. 5 (PNA) — Do you appreciate the richness in taste and aroma of coffee? Do you know that the Philippines is also exporting coffee?

However, Filipino coffee growers/farmers deal with challenges. Among these include diseases in coffee (such as leaf rust, stem borer, nematodes, coffee berry disease), pests, unproductive trees, poor technology utilization, and low market prices.

According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), tissue culture could help address these challenges as this could bring rapid production of quality planting materials.

With this, PCAARRD has funded the “Enhancement of Micropropagation techniques to meet the demand for quality planting materials” project.

Recognizing that tissue culture could fast track the mass propagation of coffee, especially when planting materials are limited in conventional vegetative propagation, the Cavite State University (CvSU) has adopted the somatic embryogenesis technique, which is part of PCAARRD’s project.

According to Wikipedia, somatic embryogenesis is a process where a plant or embryo is derived from a single somatic cell or group of somatic cells. It added that somatic embryos are formed from plant cells that are not normally involved in the development of embryos (e.g. ordinary plant tissue).

PCAARRD explained that somatic embryogenesis plant propagation technique is efficient, rapid, and thus, can improve Coffee Arabica and Liberica varieties’ productivity.

These two coffee varieties were chosen due to their superior bean yield, and bean quality. PCAARRD also cited that Liberica variety is resistant to common insects, pests, and diseases.

CvSU, Benguet State University (BSU), Central Philippines State University (CPSU), and Central Mindanao University were identified as cooperating agencies. Moreover, these universities will also represent Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The agency said the methods of propagating coffee in the country were stem cuttings and the use of seeds. It noted that buds, grafts, and cuttings must be sourced from vertically growing shoots such as the primary fruiting plagiotropic branches or branches growing at an almost horizontal angle to maintain the uniformity in the population of coffee plants.

In its project, PCAARRD has involved the development and optimization of the different stages of somatic embryogenesis: callus induction phase, differentiation phase and embryo development, plantlet regeneration phase, rooting and acclimatization phase.

CvSU targets production of 600,000 coffee seedlings in three years, and hopes to sustain these to support the livelihood of coffee farmers. The university also aims to stabilize coffee prices.

According to PCAARRD, beneficiaries of this project include coffee farmers, coffee producers, cooperatives, associations, coffee researchers and extension workers, coffee consumers, entrepreneurs, and industries or processing companies.

Promoting somatic embryogenesis in coffee is one of the agency’s initiatives to provide science-based know-how and tools to enable the agricultural sector raise productivity to world-class standards. MA. CRISTINA C. ARAYATA/PNA / northboundasia.com