Monday, 13 July 2009

Mindanao governors commit 40,000 ha for coffee production

J. B. Escovilla

DAVAO CITY — Mindanao governors have committed the 40,000 hectares needed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Nestlé Philippines to make the country self-sufficient in coffee in five to seven years.

The Agriculture department and Nestlé rolled out a coffee farming sustainability program last Saturday in a bid to ensure a stable supply of beans and steady income for farmers.

The memorandum of agreement was signed by Secretary Arturo C. Yap and Nestlé Philippines Chief Executive Officer Nandu Nandkishore at Nestle’s Experimental and Demo Farm in Tagum City.

The agreement calls for the government to build the necessary infrastructure, while the company will take care of the training and seedlings. Mr. Yap said the coffee industry could contribute up to P21 billion a year to the national economy.

He said production by the country’s coffee farmers is still short by 30,000-35,000 metric tons a year of the self-sufficiency level.

A coffee farmer, the agriculture official said, can earn P75,000-P100,000 per year.

Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo P. del Rosario said the Agriculture department and Nestlé won’t have to go out of Mindanao for land since his province, along with Compostela Valley and Bukidnon, possess the needed land area to plant coffee.

He said Talaingod town alone has 45,000 hectares of rolling hills and plains that are ideal for coffee, based on elevation and soil quality. He said nearly all these lands are covered by ancestral domain but talks are under way with tribal leaders.

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo T. Uy echoed this, claiming his province used to produce homegrown coffee beans about 20 years ago before a massive drop in prices in the world market forced the farmers to shift to banana and other cash crops. "Now, the price is good at P60 per kilogram. Before, because I also went into coffee farming, it was only P10-P15/kg and the highest was P20/kg," he said, adding the municipalities of Maragusan, Maco, Nabunturan are ideal areas to cultivate coffee.

Mr. Nandkishore said the objective to make the country coffee self-sustaining in seven years is attainable, noting the Philippines has the potential to be one of the major coffee-producing countries in the world.

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