Producers aim for quality coffee to meet global demand

DAVAO CITY — The government and the private sector involved in coffee production are advocating for quality consciousness in order to improve value for products as well as meet the global demand.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Evelyn G. Laviña said the market only needs quality coffee and “this is what we need to do.” Laviña was the guest speaker at the opening of the 9th National Coffee Summit on Wednesday at SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang.

She said the DA has placed coffee as one of the priorities under the high-value crops program.

There are initiatives that were lined up to address pressing concerns affecting coffee production, she said.

Laviña mentioned that quality production must start with the planting materials which DA regularly provides.

However, she said that procurement of the planting materials must be monitored thoroughly so that what will be delivered to the farmers are the right seedlings as specified.

“The system of procurement and distribution of planting materials must be improved,” she said.

She said there is also that need for the establishment, maintenance, and rehabilitation of coffee nurseries as well as the establishment of clonal garden.

Regulatory support is part of those initiatives including support to plant quarantine, accreditation of plant nurseries, plant material certification, support for pest and diseases monitoring, product standards and development of GAP (good agricultural practices).

But Laviña said there are other concerns that need to be addressed like rejuvenating old trees which some farmers are hesitant to undertake.

In Region XI, she said 75 percent of the existing farms need rejuvenation. It has a total area of 17,344 hectares planted to Arabica (3,081 has.); Excelsa (1,503 has.); Liberica (70 has.); and Robusta (12,690 has.).

There is still the low adoption on “Pick Red Campaign” and also the low adoption of PH technology which resulted in poor quality beans.

The government’s role in the industry, Laviña said, is to also to provide production support, post-harvest, irrigation, training and marketing support.

“Both government and the industry sector must collaborate so that we can fit into the increasing demand on quality coffee,” she said.

Jorge Mendoza Judan, director of the Philippine Coffee Board (PCB), earlier said that they had been urging coffee growers to produce only quality beans.

He said, “We have to bring back the country’s coffee in the global market in the same manner that Philippines in the 1800s had been known around the world for its most tasteful coffee.”

But this was not protected because in the 1900s the industry suffered due to pests’ infestation of coffee trees, resulting in the decline in production.

He said the sector wants to revive this and a lot of challenges must be met.

“Right now, we have not established our coffee brand nor cupped or graded it,” he said.

He said that there are already good coffees being produced locally but they have not graded it.

He added that the industry is looking at producing specialty coffee with a grade of 80 to 100 percent in quality.

Specialty coffee is what international buyers are looking for, he said and this will put a premium on the price.

“Developing this kind of coffee and once improved and enhanced might bring back the Philippines into the global market just like what our country was known for many years ago,” he added. Digna Banzon/