Davao specialty coffee group eyes extra 200 hectares to service export market

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DAVAO CITY — A group in Davao del Sur province that produces specialty coffee is aiming to expand its current 400-hectare farm by at least another 200 as foreign markets start to recognize the Philippine product.

Marivic C. Dubria of the Balukatay Coffee Farmers Association said one buyer wanted to order 20 tons a year after she participated in the Specialty Coffee Expo 2018 in the US.

She (Ms. Dubria) is again going to the United States next month, this time to Boston, for the Specialty Coffee Expo 2019 after recently winning the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition 2019 for Arabica.

“(Last year American buyers) did not know about the Philippines, (but) they are learning about it now,” according to Terrence John Ryan, chief of mission of the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise project, which is helping the Balukatay group.

The project is backed by the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance, which in turn is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Ms. Dubria said the current output of about 30 tons a year is fully taken up by two domestic buyers with a combined order of 16 tons, with the rest purchased by buyers in Japan and Canada.

Mr. Ryan said while the group works on expanding and increasing output, exposure to such international events like the one in Boston “will be very exciting for Philippine coffee producers.”

Melani A. Provido, regional coordinator for the Department of Agriculture’s High Value Crops, said the department has also been helping other coffee groups break into the international market.

Among these groups, said Ms. Provido, is the Alegre Vegetables and Arabica Growers Association, in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

“We hope that they can also penetrate the international market,” Ms. Provido concluded. — Carmelito Q. Francisco