Coffee industry targeting more areas for production
INDUSTRY GROUP Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. is scouting for more areas to grow the crop as current production has been unable to keep up with demand, an officer of the organization said in an interview last Monday.
“In the Visayas, we are looking at Negros Occidental, at the foothills of Mt. Kanlaon, and also in Davao, around the areas of Mt. Apo and Mt. Matutum,” Pacita U. Juan, Philippine Coffee Board chairman, said on the sidelines of the 2nd Philippine Conference on Research in Corporate Social Responsibility that was held in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila last Sept. 3.
“Of course, we will also expand the areas we already have in Cordillera (Administrative Region) such as Ifugao and Mountain Province,” Ms. Juan added.
In terms of capacity, these new areas are expected to add some 7,000 metric tons (MT) of coffee per year after two years, Ms. Juan said.
The targeted areas are capable of accommodating 2,000 coffee trees per hectare, and 1,000 coffee trees per hectare if other crops like papaya and banana are interspersed with coffee, Ms. Juan said.
The Philippine Coffee Board has said it is considering expansion of production areas to include the provinces of Bataan, Benguet, Kalinga and Palawan.
Nationwide, the area allotted by the government for coffee plantations totaled about 119,656.73 hectares last year, down 1.44% from 121,399.35 hectares in 2010, data posted on the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) Web site showed.
Still, demand for coffee remains strong, with bulk accounted for by local cafés that combine the popular Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta varieties for latte and other mixed coffee beverages, Ms. Juan noted.
Also, the search for new coffee areas comes as evolving worker habits have yielded more coffee drinkers in recent years, she claimed.
“The demand for coffee beans in general is still continuing to grow, and it is still mostly local. As you can see, we are really a nation of coffee drinkers, and there are now more people working almost 24/7 who end up drinking more coffee,” Ms. Juan said.
According to the BAS’ Performance of Philippine Agriculture January-June 2012 report released last Aug. 13, coffee production totaled 41,540 MT in the first semester, a 4.4% improvement from 39,790 MT from the same period last year.
For the entire 2011, production totaled approximately 88,526.09 MT, 6.36% less than 2010’s 94,536.01 MT, BAS data showed further.
Bulk of this output was accounted for by Coffee Robusta, which slid 7.29% to 62,978.41 MT from 67,933.06 MT, and Coffee Arabica, which fell to 19,002.27 MT from 19,420.53 MT.
These production figures pale in comparison to the estimated local demand of 75,000-100,000 MT of coffee per year, Ms. Juan said.
“That is why we are thinking of these new areas to fill that demand. If it’s not enough, we’ll keep looking for new areas,” she said.
Last October, the Philippine Coffee Board noted the Agriculture department had allocated an initial 163 million this year to boost coffee output — a thrust that includes distribution of seedlings, establishment of nurseries, as well as rejuvenation, rehabilitation and expansion of existing coffee production areas.