When one thinks of coffee, the provinces of Batangas or Cavite quickly come to mind.
In truth, roughly 70 percent of coffee produced in the country comes from the south, particularly the Davao Region.
While the domestic coffee industry hit a snag owing to declining production in recent years, local coffee is still considered world-class.
Various sectors recently convened to make Davao coffee great again through meaningful research and development initiatives. More than a hundred coffee farmers along with investors and buyers gathered at the DOST-Coffee FIESTA (Farms and Industry Encounters through Science and Technology Agenda) in Davao del Sur with a spotlight on coffee.
Hosted by the Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium, the event sought to boost coffee production in the region.
According to Dr. Anthony Sales, Region XI Department of Science and Technology director and chair of Regional Research and Development Council, Davao del Sur recently gained international attention at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle where the region was represented by the Balutakay coffee farmers.
“Coffee is a lucrative investment with the growing demand for coffee worldwide especially among young people,” Sales said.
He said that even a fraction of the global multi-billion dollar coffee industry could drastically change the quality of lives of Filipino coffee farmers.
The Philippines was one of the biggest producers of coffee in the 17th century but local production plummeted in the succeeding decades because of various factors such as depleting manpower in the coffee value chain, land conversion and uncertainty of profit from coffee.
With new and better product processing introduced by emerging technologies, the modernization of the coffee business from raw product processing and packaging to logistics is seen to enable the local industry to keep up with other countries.
Dr. Danilo Pacoy, SMAARRDEC director, said that Davao del Sur is studying Arabica coffee grown in the highlands of Mt. Apo through a partnership with Southern Philippines Agri-business and Marine and Aquatic School of Science and Technology which co-hosted the Coffee FIESTA.
“The project aims to determine the behavior of Arabica coffee varieties under Philippine conditions,” said Pacoy.
Marita Carlos, director of the Applied Communication Division of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development is optimistic about coffee’s potential in the region.
“There is a big niche for organic coffee,” said Carlos during a media conference and forum after the opening ceremony. He said the Coffee FIESTA was a step towards reinvigorating not only Davao Del Sur’s but also Mindanao’s coffee industry.
“We are all in this together. The very essence of the FIESTA is to gather all stakeholders. We are looking at the gaps and needs of the industry through research and development,” she said.
SMAARRDEC is a non-profit R&D organization that promotes agriculture, aquatic and natural resources.
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