Sultan Kudarat hosts 1st regional Coffee Congress

TACURONG CITY (MindaNews/28 October) —  Sultan Kudarat is holding the 1st Region 12 Coffee Congress to discuss ways to improve production and increase investments in the industry, a Department of Trade and Industry official said on Friday.

Nelly Nita Dillera, DTI-Sultan Kudarat director, said the congress on November 17 to 19 at the provincial capitol in nearby Isulan town also seeks to strengthen the hold of Sultan Kudarat as the “Coffee Capital of the Philippines.”

“Sultan Kudarat is currently the country’s biggest producer of coffee,” Dillera said, citing a report from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics that pegged the province’s coffee production at 23% of the national total.

In terms of Arabica, Sultan Kudarat remains the number one producer contributing 52% to the national total, trailed way behind Davao del Sur’s  7%, Iloilo and Sulu at 5% each and South Cotabato’s  4%, she said.

Sultan Kudarat is also the number one producer of Robusta with about 18% of the Philippines’ total, followed closely by Compostela Valley’s 15%, Cavite’s 10%, Bukidnon’s  7% and Kalinga Apayao’s  5%, Dillera said.

But Sultan Kudarat’s yield is not as high as that of Cavite. Average yield in a hectare of coffee plantation in Sultan Kudarat is only 400 kg while Cavite’s is one ton per hectare.

This is one major reason for the conduct of the congress, the organizers said, citing the need to rejuvenate or rehabilitate the existing coffee farms.

The congress shall also tackle ways to improve agricultural and cultural practices, coffee quality profile, coffee for climate change, market requirements, coffee processing, and coffee shop business.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is expected to grace the opening program, as the agency has included coffee as a priority high value crop.

The DTI provincial office has set a sales target of P2 million for the market matching; P5 million for new investments; and improvement of productivity by 80% in the next three years.

The country is both an exporter and importer of coffee. In 2009, the Philippines exported coffee to Canada, Japan, South Korea and the United States of Amercia. However, it was also importing more coffee along with EU, USA, Japan, Canada and Switzerland.

The domestic demand for coffee is currently pegged at 65,000 million while the country only supplies 30,000 MT, posting a deficit of 35,000 MT and filled by importation, Dillera said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)