KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 May) — Despite decreasing production, Region 12 or Soccsksargen region remained as the top coffee producer in the country last year, Department of Agriculture (DA) officials said.
Danilo Centillas, DA-12 high value crops coordinator, said coffee production in the region reached 27,869 metric tons (MT).
“Sultan Kudarat remains as the coffee production center in Region 12,” he told MindaNews on Tuesday.
In 2011, DA-12 records showed that coffee production in the area was at 28,502 MT.
From 2011 to 2012, there was a decline in production by 633 MT.
After Region 12, Region 11 or the Davao region posted the second highest coffee production in 2012 at 18,950 MT, followed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at 10,629 MT, making Mindanao the major coffee producer among the three major islands in the country.
Centillas blamed the high cost of fertilizers and other farm inputs for the declining coffee production in the region in 2012.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Sultan Kudarat hosted the first regional coffee congress in November 2011 to further enhance the commodity’s production in the area.
Nescafe Philippines, Inc., the country’s major coffee buyer, graced the event to encourage more farmers to plant the commodity.
Current farm gate trading price of coffee in Sultan Kudarat ranges from P75 to P80 per kilo, Centillas said.
Nestle buys Class A coffee from traders at P92, P90 for Class B and P87 for Class C, he added.
Coffee beans produced in Sultan Kudarat are either transported to General Santos City or Tagum City in Davao del Norte where Nestle maintains buying stations, Centillas said.
In Mindanao, Nestle operates a processing plant in Cagayan de oro City, he added.
Region 12 has at least 23,000 hectares of coffee farms with about the same area still suitable for planting the commodity, said Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA-12 director.
Sultan Kudarat has the largest area planted to coffee with at least 17,000 hectares, data from DA-12 showed.
Coffee is considered a priority crop in the region by the Agriculture department, which provides the sector with production technology and technical and marketing assistance, Datukan said.
She urged farmers to plant more coffee due to the crop’s demand in both local and foreign markets.
Datukan said that promoting coffee propagation was also part of the agency’s efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change, improve forest cover and address soil erosion.
Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Trade and Industry director in Sultan Kudarat, earlier said that domestic demand for coffee is currently pegged at 65,000 MT while the country could only produce 30,000 MT, posting a deficit of 35,000 MT.
The deficit is filled up by importation, she said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)