ILOILO CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) called on coffee farmers in the Visayas to increase their production to help meet growing local demand.

Around 200 coffee growers, processors, traders, institutional buyers, and members of the industry council from Regions VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), and VIII (Eastern Visayas) attended an assembly for the 2017-2022 Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap on Aug. 2-4, 2017 in Iloilo City, hosted by DTI in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Myrna P. Pablo, DTI’s National Industry Cluster Coordinator, said the road map covers the major programs that the stakeholders and government agencies should implement in order to improve the industry.

“Its primary purpose is really to improve our production,” she said.

Ms. Pablo noted a big shortage in the domestic supply of coffee, with Filipinos thought to be ranked in the top 5 among global consumers of coffee.

She said that Nestlé Philippines, the country’s biggest coffee producer, still imports 75,000 metric tons (MT), or 75% of its supply, from Vietnam.

“Our local farmers are only able to supply 25% of our consumption needs,” she said.

Low production, she added, is mainly due to lack of farmers and the aging of trees.

At the same time, the DTI official said an increase in production would allow the industry to venture into value-adding for coffee products so that farmers can earn more.

Among the three Visayan regions, Western Visayas has the biggest coffee production with a potential crop volume of 400 MT, based DA records.

Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental province, currently has about 3,800 hectares of fruit-bearing trees and around 2,719 coffee farmers. — Louine Hope U. Conserva