When you start your mornings drinking coffee that is locally manufactured with beans grown in the country, you are directly contributing to the livelihood of the hardworking Magkakapeng Pillipino.
As the country’s only large coffee manufacturer and the leading buyer of domestically grown Robusta beans, Nestlé Philippines is deeply committed to helping grow the local coffee industry through the NESCAFÉ Plan, a long-term program that seeks to boost the supply of local Robusta coffee while helping farmers increase their yields and incomes from coffee farming, in the process uplifting their quality of life. The company’s strategy is to favor and push for the local sourcing of raw and packaging materials in its manufacturing.
Significant increase in local coffee buying
Today, Nestlé Philippines announced that in crop year 2020-2021, its local coffee buying had increased by 39 percent, following an increase of 27 percent in 2019-2020. These increases are attributed to higher yields because of intensified classroom and hands-on training for Robusta coffee farmers, and greater availability of credit for farming, aspects of coffee production in which the NESCAFÉ Plan is actively involved. Nestlé Philippines aims to continue increasing direct buying from individual farmers and farmer groups as a component of the NESCAFÉ Plan.
At present, coffee consumption in the country totals approximately 100,000 metric tons while local production stands at only about a fourth of demand. While the Philippines is an ideal country in which to grow coffee, production has decreased by 3.5 percent with consumption increasing by 8.8 percent annually in recent years.
According to the Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap 2017-2022, the continuous drop in production has been caused by various factors such as an increasing number of coffee growers shifting to other crops, old age of trees with limited or no rejuvenation, poor farm practices, and limited knowledge on appropriate coffee technology among farmers, aging farmers, limited access to certified planting materials, and limited access to credit. Still, another factor is climate change with its adverse effects on agriculture.
Due to the gap between supply and demand, local manufacturers are forced to import raw coffee from Vietnam and Indonesia, which the country can very well produce for itself. The shortage in supply represents ready-made opportunities for local coffee growers.
Notwithstanding the complex challenges, with the right policies and technologies, with sufficient investments and support from both the government and the private sector, and with adequate economic benefits and incentives for landowners and farmers as well as producers, the local coffee sector can achieve self-sufficiency in the future.
“Given our involvement in coffee manufacturing in the country, we have a major responsibility to take a key role towards building a progressive coffee industry. This involves growing enough so that there will be no need to import coffee, and includes helping farmers become agripreneurs, observing equitable labor practices on the farms, and respecting the environment. That is why we are deeply committed to the continuing implementation of our NESCAFÉ Plan as a vehicle for driving coffee sustainability,” said Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Kais Marzouki.
A banner component of the NESCAFÉ Plan called Project Coffee+ in collaboration with GIZ, the German development cooperation agency has been training 1,500 farmers in Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon intensively over the past three years to approach small-scale coffee farming as a business. The initiative is on track in doubling the participants’ average yields per hectare.
Upskilling coffee farmers with TESDA
Recently, Nestlé Philippines signed an agreement with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide scholarships for farmers, particularly smallholders, youth, women, and Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao, where 80 percent of the country’s coffee is grown. The partnership aims to strengthen and empower farmers by providing them with proper training in coffee production, based mainly on the Farmer Business School for Coffee training materials developed by Project Coffee+.
Last June and July, the first three batches – each composed of 25 farmer scholars, began training in Coffee Production Level II at the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Crops and Livestock Research Complex in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. The 25-day training module teaches and trains participants the fundamentals of modern coffee growing and entrepreneurship.
This year, there are 450 initial scholarship slots allotted for Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat. Nestlé and TESDA intend to expand the project to other locations.