Davao targets 1,000-ha. in extra land for coffee

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THE government is hoping to upgrade the coffee bean crop by raising production in the Davao region and by improving the genetic quality of domestic output.

Melani A. Provido, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region XI’s High Value Crops Development Program coordinator, said in a statement that the office hopes to add another 1,000 hectares (ha) planted to coffee, from the current 2,300 ha in the Davao Region due to the 2.4% annual increase in demand.

“[This] is expected to rise in the coming years. More and more people drink coffee every day as the younger generations drink more,” she said.

Under the Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap 2017-2022, the government plans to expand the area planted to coffee by 20,000 ha annually and increase production volume to 120,000-200,000 tons from 37,000 tons.

By year’s end, the total area planted to coffee should be 16,597 ha, with 12,448 ha dedicated to the Robusta variety, 4,149 ha to Arabica and 1,000 to Liberica.

“To sustain coffee production, there is a need to rejuvenate old trees to improve their productivity. It is a widely accepted practice for revitalizing coffee farms and has been found more advantageous than replanting,” Ms. Provida said.

The DA has so far rehabilitated 185,500 trees which are expected to bear larger berries after a year. Replanted trees, on the other hand, need another three to four years before flowering to produce the same results.

Under the roadmap, the government is seeking to increase the yield of green coffee beans to 1 metric ton per ha by 2022 and cut the importation of coffee bean and its products by 65%.

DA Agriculturist John Paul Matuguinas recommends that farmers pick red berries for their fully-developed flavor instead of “strip picking” or picking all of the berries.

“Proper picking, drying and storing must also be observed to produce quality coffee. Poor handling and storing practices can worsen the quality of coffee,” he added.

“In producing specialty coffee, the wet process is observed where red berries are washed, de-pulped, parched and fermented for 24 hours. After fermentation, beans are air dried in an elevated drying bed.”

With higher yields, the roadmap also targets 3% in increased employment and the adoption of environmentally-friendly technologies.

Ms. Provido said that the DA will provide processing equipment such as pulper machines to ensure quality and reduce waste in picked berries.

Cavite State University researchers in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology are also working to improve the genetic diversity of coffee beans which was found to be “low.”

The study found that some distinct coffee varieties turned out to be genetically the same, while some were also almost indistinguishable even at molecular level, according to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

The state universities of Benguet, Central Philippines and Mindanao also took part in the project which also seeks to conserve and manage the coffee’s genetic resources.

The project will enable researchers to identify the genetic origins of the beans and “define possible parental linkages for breeding” through a database which can be used for breeding programs in the future. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato