DAVAO CITY — The Davao Region coffee industry is targeting farmers in a bid to increase quality awareness among growers, allowing them to grow their incomes.
“We educate our farmers about coffee production… and also coffee tasting,” said Felicitas B. Pantoja, Davao Coffee Council chairman and chief executive officer of the social enterprise Coffee For Peace, Inc.
Ms. Pantoja said producers in the region, as well as consumers, are generally “still in the baby stage” in terms of identifying coffee grades.
The goal, she said, is to have farmers who are able to determine themselves the quality of their harvest and demand the appropriate price.
The education campaign is being pursued in parallel with the organization of sub-councils. Three have so far been set up covering the provinces of Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental. The Davao City council is expected to be in place next week.
Ms. Pantoja said the entire Davao Region currently has only two Q Graders who are licensed by the Coffee Quality Institute as certifiers of coffee grade.
“If you target quality, even if the commodity (price) drops, we can still ask for a higher price given the quality,” she said.
She added that farmers, particularly those in the highlands, need to use the many idle areas for coffee and other high value crops like cacao.
The region, she said, produces about 25,000 metric tons of coffee annually, which is only a quarter of Philippine demand. This covers just Robusta coffee and not the higher-grade Arabica.
“Imagine how it would help economically our farmers who lived up in the boondocks (if we planted more coffee),” she said.
Coffee is one of the featured agricultural products during the three-day Davao Agri-Trade Expo (DATE) 2018 that opens on Sept. 20. Among the activities lined up are a bean grading competition for farmers and coffee tasting for consumers.
“We have variety of coffees here… and each would give a different taste profile — some are chocolatey or nutty or berry-like. If you are not aware and your senses are not aware, when you drink coffee you would just say, ‘Oh it tastes like coffee’. But when you make yourself aware of the various senses, then you can identify the different taste profiles,” Ms. Pantoja said. — Carmelito Q. Francisco and Maya M. Padillo