We drove up to the City of Pines to lend support to the 1st Philippine Coffee Conference organized jointly by the Departments of Trade and Industry and of Agriculture.
I must congratulate DTI – Cordillera Administrative Regional Director Myrna Pablo and her team for mustering a crowd of almost 600 delegates from all over the country made up of coffee farmers, producers, traders, advocates and enthusiasts like myself to talk everything about coffee.
Held at the Hotel Supreme in Baguio City, the conference tackled the current situation of the coffee industry and what ails it from encouraging more investors to come in.
From no. 3, the Philippines’ ranking has dropped to no. 25 in the list of coffee – producing countries. But all is not lost. The past years, various interventions were introduced designed to revive the industry: focus group discussions, value chain approach workshops, industry clustering.
Coffee is among the products adopted by the DTI – CAR to nurture along with heirloom rice and tourism. In her remarks, RD Pablo reported on the positive results of these initiatives which mind you, were the same things pointed out by the private sector as “must do” to move the coffee industry forward. But government can only do so much as to enable. Into the hands of the private sector lie the future of coffee as a sustainable product
Bakit yummy ang kape ni Coco Martin?
This was the first slide in the presentation of Ruth Novales, Nestle VP for Corporate Affairs, on the 10 year Nescafe Plan, a global initiative which integrates the value chain approach in coffee – growing from the planting to processing, from the green beans to the consumer. It is about new technology in coffee farming, training, and technical assistance to farmers. Kaya mas masarap ang kape ni Coco.
Because beyond the cup is the thought that shared value has been created.
Rocky Mountain is owned by French-Canadian Pierre Cote who has been Filipinized by virtue of being in the Philippines for the last 20 years and married to a Filipina.
He raised some interesting points: there is no real coffee industry, with 95% mainly backyard growers with no access to markets. The new generation stays away from farming. But there are a lot of opportunities to consider with fast and increasing demand for coffee worldwide. By the way, the South Koreans are biggest consumers of coffee.
We need centers of excellence where technology is available to farmers. We need to cluster farmers to produce large quantities and address volume. We need post-harvest facilities for storage to ensure quality of our beans.
Make available financing mechanisms that provide grace period while in the gestation period. We must guarantee purchases of the farmers’ produce to encourage them to plant and stay in the business.
All these at a cost of about P77 million. Chicken feed!
What is that compared to the P10 billion PDAF available? If only it was put to good use, then maybe we have a fighting chance to reclaim our no.3 spot. If we miss this chance again, expect coffee imports to increase, more jobs will be created in Vietnam instead of the Philippines. So the challenge posed is for importers to plant more coffee trees and support our farmers by buying from them. That is Mr. Cote’s words, not mine.
Too bad we missed the coffee farm tour and the coffee business forum but I am sure there will be more events of the same nature in the future. For now, we must stay awake. Another cup of coffee should do the trick!
God is Great!