DTI, PHILCAFE PROJECT, LGU SUYO team up to improve coffee farm productivity and quality (YLOCOS Coffee Talk 101)
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has teamed-up with the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PHILCAFE) Project and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Suyo to help local coffee farmers increase the value, volume and improve the quality of Ylocos coffee through a two-day Capacity Building Training held in the municipality of Suyo on March 11-12, 2021. The training, participated in by 25 local coffee growers coming from the six (6) coffee growing municipalities in Ilocos Sur, focused on coffee production and maintenance, pest and disease management, rejuvenation, proper harvesting and storage and green defect identification. Specifically, the training aims to increase awareness of the local coffee growers on the importance of rejuvenating coffee trees as one of the methods of improving farm productivity. The PHILCAFE Project is one of the partners of the DTI in boosting national coffee production through the extension of technical, financial and marketing assistance. This training is the second engagement of the DTI-Ilocos Sur with them. The first one was on November 18-20, 2020 conducted in the same municipality. PHILCAFE Project provides coffee mentors during the conduct of trainings.
“Thank you for involving the PHILCAFE Project in your coffee development initiatives. We are excited to visit coffee organizations in Ilocos Sur to see what we can do to help, “ Ms. Christine Abellon of PHILCAFE Project Northern Luzon Chapter said. She further remarked that they are planning to conduct a training for potential coffee mentors who will be able to cascade information to fellow coffee growers in the province.
One of the highlights of the training was the coffee farm visit to Sitio Botigue, Barangay Man-atong in Suyo wherein about 1,500 trees were rejuvenated by the Department of Agricuture and the LGU Suyo in July 2020. Participants were surprised to see most of the coffee trees already in bloom after its rejuvenation. Harvest period is expected to be sometime during the first quarter of 2022.
“The municipality of Suyo is honored being chosen as your venue for your training and benchmarking activity. What you have seen in this coffee farm is a product of a strong cooperation of the members of the BBL Stewardship Coffee Growers Assocication who voluntarily sought available rejuvenating tools to start and constantly visit the farm for maintenance, “ said Mayor Mario Subagan who was with the group during the 2-day training. He challenged the participants to work cooperatively with all the coffee stakeholders to develop the local coffee as a profitable income generating industry. “We hope that you have a take home learning from your training and your farm visit. Taking from our experience, you can also do the same in your respective coffee farms. Remember that if there is a will there is a way,” added Mayor Subagan.
The resurgence of the coffee industry development in Ilocos Sur started in 2016 when the DTI- Ilocos Sur implemented its interventions to the industry drawing from the best practices and successes of the large coffee-growing regions in the Philippines like the SOCCSKSARGEN, Davao, ARMM, Northern Mindanao and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) under the DTI’s Industry Cluster Enhancement (ICE) Program. Later on, with the implementation of the 2017-2022 Philippine Coffee Industry Cluster Roadmap, programs to address the issues in the coffee supply chain in the province were more focused positively affecting about 800 direct and indirect beneficiaries through job generation and increased income.
With convergence agencies like the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur (PGIS), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and LGUs providing various assistances and incentives, the province of Ilocos Sur is gradually being recognized as a quality producer of coffee, robusta variety. During the 2018 Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC) organized by the Philippine Quality Institute (PQI), the robusta entry of Mr. Rodolfo Aciong of Quirino, Ilocos Sur emerged as the Top 1, with 4 other robusta entries of coffee growers in Ilocos Sur landing as the Top 3, Top 6 and Top 12. In the 2019 PCQC, 5 Ilocos Sur robusta entries again landed in the Top 9 with Mr. Aciong’s entry emerging in the Top 3. Ilocos Sur coffee farmers are again set to join in the 2021 PCQC in May this year with high hopes that the Ylocos Coffee will be emerging again in the Top 12 spots. Additionally, the effective convergence initiatives resulted to the development of 12 Ylocos Coffee brands now offered in the local market.
DTI Provincial Director Grace R. Lapastora underscored the agency’s strong commitment to transform the local coffee industry into a thriving, viable and sustainable income generating venture that will improve the livelihood of the families who produce it.
“With the cooperative spirit of all stakeholders, the strong market demand for coffee and with the Philippine Coffee Roadmap in place, we believe that coffee industry will be one of the pathways that will lead to higher farmer incomes,” said PD Lapastora.
Currently, the Philippines is the 4th largest coffee consumer in the world but only produces 7% of its coffee requirement and imports 93%.