Nestle mulls coffee buying station in S. Kudarat

TACURONG CITY (MindaNews/04 December)—Nestle Philippines Inc. has expressed intention to put up a coffee buying station in Sultan Kudarat province to bring the market closer to farmers, an official said.

Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Trade and Industry – Sultan Kudarat director, said that Nestle officials voiced out the plan following the recently concluded 1st Region 12 Coffee Congress hosted by the province.

“More than just access to market, the presence of the buying station would redound to more significant impacts such as proper technology, from planting to harvesting, as farmers would be aware of the coffee quality profile and thereby aim to achieve the highest yield and grade for their coffee,” she said.

Sultan Kudarat hosted the regional coffee congress last month to showcase the area’s potentials as well as to improve local coffee production pegged at 400 kilograms per hectare.

This is way down the coffee production in Cavite of 1,000 kg or one metric ton per hectare.

Sultan Kudarat posted the largest coffee production area in the country with 19,064 hectares in 2010 and 17,914 has in 2009. The province’s production volume was recorded at 22,789 MT last year and 22,410 MT in 2009.

The province’s coffee production is centered in Senator Ninoy Aquino town.

Dante Eugenio, president of the Senator Ninoy Aquino Coffee Industry Development Council Inc, said that because of Sultan Kudarat’s coffee production volume, it should now be called the “Coffee Capital of the Philippines.”

Eugenio noted that the production volume in Sultan Kudarat could increase further if farmers only adopt the proper planting and harvesting methods.

Danilo Centillas, Department of Agriculture –Region 12 high value crop coordinator, said that coffee production in the region is now one of the office’s top priorities.

The regional Agriculture office has distributed 84,000 coffee planting materials across the region this year, he said, pegging the 2010 coffee production at 27,761 metric tons, a slight increase from the 27,553 MT recorded the previous year.

DA regional office’s data showed that at least 13,401 hectares of land are suitable for coffee expansion in Sultan Kudarat province.

Dillera urged farmers in the province to plant coffee, noting that the market “is not a problem” with the presence of corporate giant Nestle and many coffee shop buyers.

“We need to generate more investments in our coffee industry because there is a huge demand, and we lack domestic supply, so we are still importing” she said.

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)