Coffee players gather to create ‘road map’

Pamela Jay F. Orias

WITH the aim of creating a local coffee road map in Mindanao, coffee councils of the five regions in the island gathered to unite and set the direction of the country’s coffee industry.

Coffee organizations from the Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao region, Soccsksargen, Caraga region, and the host region Northern Mindanao gathered yesterday at Mallberry Suites, this city, to discuss the current status of coffee industry in their respective regions.

Myrna Pablo, Department of Trade and Industry-national industry cluster coordinator for coffee, said the event aims to bring the road map to the coffee farmers and producers in the island.

The coffee road map, was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte in March this year to provide direction to concerned stakeholders toward sustainable and globally competitive Philippine cacao and coffee industries.

Pablo said it is important to disseminate the road map to Mindanao, which she said is an "island with full of potential and bright prospects".

Pablo said Mindanao is known as the best coffee producer in the country, as it produces both Robusta and Arabica coffee.

"Mindanao is endowed because you have wide tracks of land, and you can have both very rich investors on coffee, and you have a lot of coffee farmers. You can plant more here, and Arabica kasi grows in high elevation and you have that in Bukidnon, and in Mount Apo in region 11," Pablo said.

"Compared to Luzon and Visayas, ang Mindanao, andito na sa quality consciousness, and therefore, once their quality of beans will improve, they command a better price for their coffee," she added.

In the new road map, Pablo said the government also urges coffee farmers to venture into coffee shops business, rather than sell it to the market.

Pablo pointed out that not all farmers understand this idea, and some would only prefer to be farmers for the rest of their lives.

"We want to develop the entrepreneurial spirit among them because we want them to earn more, right now they earn a little compared to the processors and traders, and they are very important in the value chain," she said.

Pablo said the people's demand for coffee is currently high and farmers can improve their lives by gaining higher income through their own shops.

Based on data from the DTI, the Philippines ranks 5th among the top coffee consumers in the whole world.

She said according to studies, coffee-drinkers in the country consist mostly of millenials, otherwise known as the "most sociable generation".

"You see, it's very easy to sell coffee nowadays because all people in every walks of life drinks it," Pablo said.

While demand for coffee in the country has been growing, Pablo noted that the country's production has also been declining.

This is why, she said, the government wants to develop the 'specialty coffee market' which is where the Arabica coffee comes in.

"We are top consumers of coffee in the world, pero in terms of production, 10 percent lang, and we only produce 25 percent of the requirement of the Nestle, and the other 75 percent is imported from Indonesia so that would mean 100,000 metric tons lang ang napo-produce natin, so may shortage din," she said.

"The specialty coffee market, means that we want to create a niche to Arabica because its end products are coffee shops, where all ages are enjoying the different concoctions of coffee," she added.

Under the new coffee road map, the government is targeting to increase coffee production to 214,626 MT by 2022.

To achieve this, the government will be creating the Philippine Coffee Council, a private sector-led body with government support up to the provincial level.