Fil-Am investor eyes 10,000-hectare coffee plantation in Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 January) – Hawaii-based Filipino-American investor Jorge Disuanco, president of Macnut Philippines, Inc., has eyed at least 10,000 hectares of Arabica coffee plantation in Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

Disuanco said his company is planning to put up a joint venture with the Federation of Matigsalog Manobo Tribal Councils (Femmatrics). He told MindaNews recently they are planning an intercropping with Macadamia trees and other crops.

He said while they are preparing for the free and prior informed consent process with Femmatrics they have already started a demonstration farm in the area after the tribal group’s approval.

Disuanco said typical Arabica coffee production will yield P150,000 to P400,000 net income per hectare per year. He said Arabica, which grows in the highlands, is the coffee variety used by high end coffee brew operators and has a high demand in the Philippines.

He also vouched for Arabica coffee’s ready market as 80 percent of the world drinks Arabica coffee.

Arabica coffee, he said, is the most expensive coffee variety. It is aromatic and has milder caffeine content compared to the Robusta variety common in instant coffees.

Disuanco said coffee is also a good crop for reforestation as each tree’s roots can extend 20 to 25 kilometers in total length.

Datu Roelito Gawilan, Femmatrics chair, told MindaNews Wednesday they are looking at the proposal as an ideal project for their ancestral domain.

He confirmed that they started a seven-hectare demo farm in Sinuda to check the viability of the variety in their area. He said Femmatrics is looking at planting 100 hectares to Arabica coffee within the year for trial.

“This is far better than banana and pineapple,” he added.

But he noted that the proponents will have to go through the FPIC. Femmatrics obtained a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) for about 102,000 hectares straddling Bukidnon, North Cotabato, and Davao City.

Disuanco said they are still in the process of developing a feasibility study, which includes the proposed juridical entity to embody the proposed joint venture to operate the project.

Disuanco was one of the resource persons invited by the Pacific Rim Innovation and Management Exponents, Inc. (Primex) during the livelihood opportunities seminar workshop they organized in the province on January 13 as a component of the Asian Development Bank’s technical assistance on watershed management.

Primex is an ADB consultant on the project, dubbed as Decentralized Framework for Sustainable Natural Resources and Rural Infrastructure Management. It has a component on livelihood. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)