|Sultan Kudarat Emerges as Country’s Top Coffee Producer|
ISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT—Few Filipino consumers are aware that the Mindanao region produces more than 70 percent of the country’s annual coffee output of approximately 98,000 metric tons.
Sultan Kudarat Province alone produced more than 19,000 metric tons (MT) last year, according to data compiled by the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The island’s main coffee production areas are in Central Mindanao, Davao City and Compostela Valley, as well as in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Coffee is an important global commodity and the Philippines is a coffee-drinking nation, with local demand growing about three percent annually.
The industry has the potential for increasing livelihood opportunities for Mindanao’s farmers, including smallhold growers in conflict-affected areas.
To boost the competitiveness of Mindanao’s coffee industry and to strengthen alliances between producers, processors and institutional buyers, Sultan Kudarat hosted the 1st Region 12 Coffee Congress last November, at the Provincial Capitol in Isulan.
The event was a collaborative effort of the SK Coffee Industry Development Council, Sen. Ninoy Aquino Coffee Industry Development Council, provincial government of Sultan Kudarat, and Region 12 offices of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and Technical Education Skills Development Authority, with support from USAID’s GEM Program.
USAID provides support to selected producer associations and other business support organizations in holding seminars, trade fairs, and other events that serve to strengthen Mindanao’s agricultural competitiveness and raise awareness of investment opportunities in the region.
According to industry analysts, Robusta remains the dominant coffee variety in the Philippine market, accounting for 75 percent of total output.
There is, however, an increasingly strong demand for Arabica, which serves as the base of specialty coffees for higher-end buyers, as well as a growing appreciation of other varieties such as Liberica and Excelsa.
The country’s coffee output, however, has declined in recent years, due to outdated production practices, diversification into other crops, as well as a lack of post-harvest production and processing facilities, among other factors.
Since 2006, the Philippines has had to import at least 20,000 metric tons of coffee beans annually, mainly from Vietnam and Indonesia.
Among the initiatives proposed at the congress in Isulan were the establishment of additional coffee clonal gardens and nurseries to produce planting materials of good quality, and the intensified promotion of good coffee-growing practices to improve productivity.
These and other recommendations made at the congress are being consolidated by the coffee councils and will be submitted to the Department of Agriculture for implementation.
Published in Daily Zamboanga Times, January 12, 2012; GoldStar Daily, January 11, 2012; Sun Star Cagayan, January 10, 2012; Manila Bulletin, December 24, 2011