​Dr. Andrea Inocencio of DA-BPI answers questions from the coffee producers and stakeholders about coffee plant nursery accreditation during the open forum of the National Coffee Summit. Listening to her are PCAF-NSC—Committee on Commercial Crops Chairperson David Santos, DA-BAFS Lara Navarro, DA-BPI-HVCDP Evelyn Tan and the summit participants.

The National Coffee Summit has paved the way to discuss the most pressing concerns of coffee farmers, traders and other stakeholders.

The two-day event, organized by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) together with its Coffee Industry Development Sub-Committee, gathered about 200 participants on April 14 to 15, 2016 at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Compound in Diliman, Quezon City.

Various coffee stakeholders raised uncertainties on financial assistance, transportation costs, lack of interest to use available land for coffee farming and other topics related to farming, postharvest, marketing, agribusiness, policy, regulations, and research development and extension.

With the theme “Strengthening Partnerships for Sustainable Coffee Industry, Industriya ng Kape sa Pilipinas: Palakasin at Pag-ibayuhin”, PCAF Exec. Dir. Ariel Cayanan encouraged private sectors, farmers and concerned government agencies to protect the coffee industry by participating in the sessions.

“Today’s summit encourages us to identify the current situation and gaps that hinder the progress of the industry. Let us all make coffee farmers and key players aware of the available programs and projects not only by the government as well as the private sector,” Exec. Dir. Cayanan said.

Before the six plenary workshop sessions started, Danilo Dannug of DA-Bureau of Plant Industry- High Value Crops Development Program (DA-BPI-HVCDP) set the discussion by presenting the Philippine coffee industry situation while Dir. Myrna Pablo of the Department of Trade and Industry-Cordillera Autonomous Region (DTI-CAR) discussed the marketing
opportunities on coffee.

“In the Philippines, coffee farming is dominated by small farmers with an average farm size of one to two hectares,” said Dannug in his presentation.

“We know that there is a decline in the coffee production by 4.04% in 2014 which totaled to 75,454 metric tons of dried berries. This was attributed to rampant cutting and pruning of old trees. But we know that there are replacements being done and HVCDP is crafting the conservation plan,” Dannug added.

According to Dannug, a Joint Administrative Circular (JAC) on the National Conservation Plan for Fruit-bearing Trees and Plantation Crops is being crafted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government, and DA. The JAC states that cutting of trees will be prohibited unless the said action passes the necessary protocols set by the authorities.

In a message, the department’s Chief of Staff and Undersecretary Dennis Guerrero reminded everyone that coffee is one of the Philippines’ champion crops.

“Nandyan po yung expertise natin at siguro, as one of the messages of the Secretary, if he is here, he would say that, ‘It’s time to move up!’ Ang sabi po ng mga kabataan, ‘Level up!’, from being farmer to farmer entrepreneurs,” USec. Guerrero added.

Working on coffee concerns

To help coffee stakeholders further understand the coffee industry and provide response to queries and clarification, PCAF invited representatives from concerned agencies and bureaus.

In response to the concern raised about the accessibility of credit assistance to coffee farmers, Edgardo de Guzman of Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and Jorge Disuanco of MacNut Philippines said that their respective companies can provide a farmer-friendly financial scheme and financial assistance to coffee growers.

On the other hand, DTI’s Negosyo Centers stationed in every region can give assistance to existing, prospective and interested businessmen especially to coffee farmers’ concern with high transportation costs from farm to buying stations.

In convincing the farmers to use the available land for coffee farming, Elnora Taleon of the DENR- National Greening Program saw the need to create feasibility studies.

Although David Santos, Chairperson of the PCAF-National Sectoral Committee’s Committee on Commercial Crops (PCAF-NSC-CCC) and Chief Executive Officer of Ka Tribu Ug Ang Lasang Foundation, agreed to have feasibility study, but further clarified that a large budget is needed in the conduct of such study. While waiting for the creation of feasibility study, Disuanco offered MacNut Phils.’ 10-year Cost Benefit Analysis for coffee which they can share upon request.

Other concerns brought up in the conference where noted by PCAF and will be sent to the concerned National Government Agencies. PCAF-NSC-CCC will consolidate all the possible proposals and suggestions to create sound policy recommendations to benefit the coffee farmers.

Aside from the plenary sessions, an exhibit participated by Nestlé Philippines, PhilMech, Philippine Coffee Alliance and Bote Central showcased coffee processes, latest processing machines and overflowing coffee.