Sultan Kudarat dangles thousands of hectares for coffee expansion

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/8 Nov) – At least 13,401 hectares of land are suitable for coffee production expansion in Sultan Kudarat province, officials said, urging farmers to plant the crop to help narrow the supply gap in the country.

At a press conference here Monday afternoon ahead of the 1st Region 12 Coffee Congress, organizers also called on investors in coffee farming to boost the country’s production in the face of continued importation.

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.

“These production figures do not include that of the Consunji plantation [in Senator Ninoy Aquino town, Sultan Kudarat]…so the volume is much bigger,” Centillas said.

In 2010, the areas planted with coffee in the region stood at 25,171 hectares, up 4.71 percent from the 24,038 has in the previous year.

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

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.”

“We have beaten Cavite and Batangas in terms of coffee production,” he said.

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

Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Trade and Industry director in Sultan Kudarat, said that the province’s average coffee yield per hectare was recorded at 400 kilograms, while Cavite at 1,000 kg or a ton per hectare.

Dillera said that increasing coffee productivity would be one of the topics in the upcoming 1st Regional Coffee Congress on November 17-19 at the provincial capitol in Isulan.

She urged farmers to plant coffee, noting that the market “is not a problem” with the 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.

Organizers said that after oil, coffee is the next most traded commodity in the world.

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. 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 MT while the country only supplies 30,000 MT, posting a deficit of 35,000 MT and filled by importation, Dillera said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)