Coffee farming pushed to cut back importation
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - September 13, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA-7) Central Visayas office is encouraging farmers to plant coffee to address the country’s dependence to imported coffee.

DA-7 regional director Atty. Salvador Diputado said his department will activate programs that will support coffee farming in Cebu, and in other parts of the region.

The Philippines, he said is importing 80 percent of its coffee bean requirement at present although the country is capable of growing coffee shrubs especially in the hilly lands.

If farmers will be able to plant coffee, alongside other crops, like cacao and coconuts, the huge dependence on importation will be minimized, at the same time give farmers additional income.

Coffee is currently the second most consumed beverage, the second most traded commodity, and the fifth most important agricultural product. In the Philippines, coffee is produced in four varieties: Arabica, Liberica (barako), Excelsa, and Robusta.

Recently, Cebu Provincial Governor Hilario Davide III vowed to intensify the province's support in maximizing the potential of some towns to grow coffee, as well as cacao trees.

The Governor vowed to work hand-in -hand with DA-7 regional office here to re-enforce and even expand its existing programs in the development of coffee farming in the province.

Davide said the province will also work with  Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to provide farmers with the right approach in starting coffee and cacao farms even in their backyards, or alongside with the coconut farms.

The Philippines used to be the third largest exporter of coffee in the world in the 1960s. Today, the country is importing over half of its coffee requirement.

NEDA earlier said that it sees a need to provide coffee seedlings and funds for fertilizers, and for post-harvest facilities and machinery for coffee bean processing.

In Cebu, the town of Tuburan is considered as the coffee basket of Cebu, with its over 2,000 hectares coffee farm.

In a separate interview, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry likewise, expressed interest to be involved in the development of coffee farming in Cebu.

CCCI president Melanie Ng said that the chamber with its strong network here and abroad could easily link these coffee growers in Cebu  in terms of market access, technological know-how, among others.

Although, the chamber officers are yet to convene for this particular subject, Ng sees good opportunity for the coffee growers to improve and increase their production capacity, thereby helping the Philippines regain its position as one of the world's top coffee producers. (FREEMAN)

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