After gaining local fame, Filipino coffee growers now want to go global
Filipino coffee farmers have made their best to make their presence known in the local food scene, but this year, they are setting their sights on competing in the Southeast Asian region.
According to Pacita U. Juan of the Philippine Coffee Board, this 2016, coffee farmers would be training on how to improve their skills in the cultivation and processing of quality coffee beans so they can establish a niche in Southeast Asia where lower commodities are expected due to the ASEAN integration.
It comes as no surprise at all, as the Philippines used to rank as the fourth largest exporter of coffee in the world up until the second half of the 1800s.
Scientists believe Philippine coffee, compared to other Asian countries in the so-called ‘coffee belt’, has a competitive edge.
To counter the low productivity local coffee growers are typically experiencing, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recommends the distribution of good quality planting materials, expansion of coffee-production areas and the application of appropriate coffee management routines to enhance crop yield and productivity.
But for Juan, it’s all about adding value to local coffee products that can help improve farmers’ income and persuade more farmer families them to plant coffee.
“If you can’t compete in terms of volume, you can compete in terms of quality and value-added features,” Juan told Business Mirror.
For instance, coffee in the Philippines is organically grown since most farmers can’t afford to buy chemical fertilizers and pesticides, thus, increasing its appeal in the foreign market.
According to Juan, the PCB will undergo numerous improvements in production methods as more farmers agree to undergo training. This includes training farmers how to use organic fertilizer to boost their yield.
Farmers would also be taught to pick beans only when it’s ripe and to let the beans undergo a washing process to increase its appeal among consumers.
“We’re telling (the farmers) there are people willing to spend P100 to P120 per kilogram for robusta as compared to the normal price of P80 per kg. There are also people paying premium price for washed coffee,” she said.
PCB, at this point, is encouraging coffee shops that have mushroomed in various cities to use local coffee beans to promote the Philippine variety.
Nevertheless, varieties like the barako, or liberica coffee have penetrated the markets of some Middle East countries and in Japan. Some coffee products from Sulu are also now being transported to Japan and South Korea. However, she said coffee exports to these countries are very minimal since there is a need to prioritize the local market.
Promoting the Philippine coffee abroad, Juan said, would be easy since some local coffee products have already won in international competitions.
Like the Arabica variety that won awards in a Bangkok food expo, which she said is sourced from coffee farms in Mt. Apo.
“That one sells higher now, as high as P300 per kilogram,” she said. ( By: Ched Romulo )