Coffee farmers urged to cultivate more areas, add value to beans
Updated: Dec 6, 2018
MANILA, Philippines - Players in the coffee and cacao industries are urging farmers to take advantage of the robust demand for these commodities by increasing cultivation areas and roasting their own beans to increase market value.
In a forum held in Mandaluyong City Thursday, coffee industry players said the Philippines needs to add 60,000 hectares of coffee cultivation area to meet domestic demand.
Benjamin Cuevas, project development supervisor of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC) said the government should increase support for coffee cultivation, especially since coffee is a high value crop.
The Department of Agriculture is too focused on rice production; coffee can earn more than rice,â€ he said in a forum hosted by PinoyME Foundation yesterday.
Vie Reyes, the executive director of Bote Central and a member of the Philippine Coffee Alliance, urged Filipino farmers to roast their own beans to raise their incomes from their produce.
"Traders envy farmers for their ability to grow and have access to coffee green beans," she said.
"Farmers earn less because they sell raw coffee beans. If farmers roasted their coffee, they stand to earn double or triple the amount. "
"A kilo of raw Arabica beans costs P100 per kilogram but when roasted the price easily reaches up to P400 per kilogram."
"Those who control the green beans, control the market," she said.
The Philippines imports between 75,000 metric tons (MT) to 100,000 MT of coffee from Vietnam and Indonesia annually at a cost of between P7- to P10-billion. Local farmers only have the capacity to produce 25,000 MT of coffee annually. Local demand for coffee is now placed at 75,000 MT and is seen to rise to 100,000 MT in the coming years.
COCOAPHIL president Edward David said local cacao production is currently placed at 10,000 MT, but demand is placed at around 30,000 MT.
The Philippines imports around 20,000 MT of cocoa beans annually to bridge the supply gap, costing an average of $42 million. Beans are usually imported from African cocoa producers in Nigeria and Ivory Coast.
He said there are around six million cacao plants in the country which needs to be ramped up to 60 million to meet local demand.
"This is unfortunate since the Philippines is one of the few countries which can grow cacao since it is a country on the equator," said David.
Roberto Crisostomo, president of cocoa seed grower SEEDCORE, said the world deficit for cocoa beans is seen to reach one million metric tons, an opportunity that the Philippines could take advantage of.
He said cocoa could be cultivated as a forest plant and used for â€œmarket-driven reforestation projectsâ€ nationwide.
The government is crafting together with the private sector an industry roadmap that would include the application of various technologies that could be used to shorten the growing time of coffee plants and beans.
The roadmap would also include guidance on lowering the cost of production, modes of financing and compliance to international trade standards.
The Department of Agriculture is pushing for the intercropping of coffee shrubs with coconut trees as part of a revised industry roadmap.
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