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Expansion of farms for coffee pushed

Local coffee stakeholders are looking at opening new areas for the crop to increase production.

Ian B. Asilo, Davao City Coffee Council chair, said last week members of his group are looking for more farms to develop as the crop has become among the top crops that the local market is absorbing.

Asilo lamented that about 17,000 hectares that were suitable for coffee have been planted with either banana or cacao.

He said there is a need to expand farms for coffee as specialty coffee has become the biggest in-demand coffee concoction in the market.
About three decades ago, coffee was among the top crops that the city was producing. Unfortunately, Asilo said, farmers shifted to planting other crops because of the drop in prices.

“That’s why, the volume–the production volume is very low in the Philippines kay ang mga farmers, dili sila gusto mutanom because of the price,” he said.

Because the local demand is high, the country can source about a third of the demand from the local market.

“There is no problem with serving local coffee. The problem is, ang always question ng mga buyers natin is, ‘where are the coffees?’” said Manny Quisol, business development manager of Agricultural Cooperative Development International/ Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (Acdi/Voca) PhilCafe Project.

“Quality wise, Philippine coffee is already at par with the quality of Ethiopia, Kenya–mga imported coffee,” said Quisol, adding that the main problem of the local industry is the volume of the locally produced coffee.
To resolve that, Asilo said it is important to increase production by reopening coffee plantations through promoting and identifying areas where they can plant coffee.

“Right now, we are promoting the specialty coffee because the specialty coffee has a higher price. Like, right now, the usual price for coffee is 70 pesos or lower. But then, if it becomes Robusca variety, kung ma-convert lang sila into a fine Robusca, mas mahal,” he said as about 7% of specialty coffee in Mindanao partly come from Davao de Oro, Maragusan Lupon, Marayag, and Mt. Apo at present.

Asilo said they would be cooperating with the ACDI-VOCA for the Robusca variety, while for the Arabica variety which is planted in upland farms, they would coordinate with the with Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and other government agencies to make it possible.

The council will also coordinate with the National Commission on Indigenous People for areas that belong to the indigenous communities.

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