Mindanao still lords over PHL coffee production

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 September) — Coffee production in the Philippines continues to be lorded over by Mindanao, with Region 12 or the Soccsksargen region remaining as the top regional coffee producer of the country..

Jennifer Remoquillo, Department of Agriculture (DA) national coordinator for High Value Crops Development Program, said that Mindanao accounts for 77 percent of the country’s coffee production.

Trailing far behind in coffee production is Luzon at 17 percent and Visayas at six percent, she added.

In terms of area planted to coffee, 67 percent is in Mindanao, 23 percent in Luzon and 10 percent in the Visayas.

Citing data from Philippine Statistics Authority’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Remoquillo said that a total of 117,451 hectares (ha) were so far planted with coffee across the country.

Of this, 26,434 ha are in Soccsksargen region, added Remoquillo, who was among the speakers of the 2nd Regional Coffee Congress, hosted by the DA Region 12 office, which opened Monday.

She disclosed that coffee production in the country last year dropped by 4.04 percent to 75,454 metric tons.

Remoquillo attributed the drop in coffee production last year to the cutting and pruning of old trees and the effects of heavy rains and strong winds during fruit development in Sultan Kudarat, the country’s top provincial coffee producer.

In Davao City, she said there was a shift to banana and in Cavite, coffee farms were converted to pineapple.

There was also lower production in Batangas due to the long dry season during the flowering stage and also due to the infestation of scale insects, she said.

Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA director for Region 12, said they conducted the second regional coffee congress, which will end Tuesday to help the industry achieve further growth.

This year’s congress carried the theme “Kape-yapaan: Susi sa Matagumpay at Maunlad na Pamayanan Tungo sa ASEAN Integration.”

Region 12 last year produced 28,000 MT of coffee, said Datukan, adding the regional Agriculture office continues to work to increase the region’s coffee production.

Remoquillo noted that among the factors that hamper the growth of the country’s coffee industry is the lack of quality seedlings.

“We have insufficient knowledge in coffee nursery production, (resulting to) the problem on quality planting materials,” she said.

Viable coffee farming requires good planting material, Remoquillo added.

In the Philippines, coffee farming is dominated by small farmers with an average farm size of one to two hectares. The most common variety is Robusta which accounted for over 70 percent production, followed by Arabica, Liberica and Excelsa, it added.

Remoquillo said some other challenges facing the country’s coffee industry include pest and disease control and marketing.

For the marketing challenge, she noted that the market requires producers to deliver consistent quality and sufficient quantity of coffee beans. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)