Mindanao coffee needs quality upgrading to compete globally, says int’l NGO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 Oct) – Coffee grown in Mindanao can compete with the specialty products of other coffee-producing countries if its quality is improved, an official of a nongovernment organization (NGO) said.

Speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw, Thelonious S. Trimmel, chief of party of the Agricultural Cooperative Development International-Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI-VOCA), said that productivity, post-harvest handling and processing training of the coffee farmers must be improved so they can keep up in terms of quality with coffee from other countries.

“We need to work on improving productivity and quality of coffee. They can compete in specialty arabica and fine robusta market,” he said.

He added that local coffee can even compete with products from Brazil, Colombia, and even Ethiopia, known as “the birthplace of coffee”.

Trimmel said ACDI-VOCA, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, has been helping farmers in technology transfer to enable them to increase production and husbandry standards.

He said ACDI-VOCA is implementing the four-year USDA-financed Mindanao Productivity in Agricultural Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) project, which is designed “to increase the income of the 10,600 smallholder cacao, coconut, and coffee farm families in Southern and Western Mindanao.”

But Department of Trade and Industry-Compostela Valley director Siegred Balleque added that the coffee farmers can ship their produce and set premium prices for their exports if they can maintain high standards on seed selection, nursery management, and good husbandry.

“We should make sure that we have the best coffee and one of the best in the world,” he said.

The official highlighted Mindanao’s competitive edge, supplying the country at least 65 percent of the 25,000 metric tons of the total production.

“Since 65 percent of coffee in the Philippines comes from Mindanao, there’s no doubt that the coffee in Mindanao has really big prospects. That’s why, we have several interventions like the coffee summit,” he said.

The coffee summit is slated on October 12-13 at the SMX Convention Center Davao, he said.

He added the Regional Development Council 11 has included coffee as one of the priority industries in Davao Region in a bid to revive the industry.

“We make sure that everyone across the value chain are quality conscious. We should do it properly and, of course, up to the packaging of the coffee products and finding markets,” he said.

Businessman Philip Dizon, who is also member of the Philippine Coffee Board, said that the volcanic soil, proper farm management, and microclimate make coffee produced in Mindanao as one of the best coffees produce in the world.

But Dizon said the environment must be protected as it helps maintain the microclimate condition that is unique to areas within Mt. Apo.

“If we grow the right coffee in the right environment, volcanic soil, technology, post harvest facility, planting materials, and improve the value chain… The bottomline is we are now becoming connected to all pollution spread all over the world creating climate change,”he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)