THERE ARE about 17,000 hectares in upland areas in Davao City that are ideal for coffee farming, but development needs a push from government, according to the Davao City Coffee Council (DC3).

Ian B. Asilo, DC3 chairman, said the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Davao regional office, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Commission on Indigenous People, has to identify the areas for coffee production and set up an assistance program to encourage farmers.

“There are 17,000 hectares in the part of Toril going to Marilog where you can plant coffee… but the coffee farms were converted into cacao and banana plantations,” Mr. Asilo said during last week’s Habi at Kape forum.

He noted that these areas used to have more coffee growers, particularly indigenous people (IP) communities, who switched crops in the 1990s following a drop in market prices.

Once the DA has tagged the area, he said, private and social enterprises can also step in to help the IPs and other small-scale growers.

“The private sector, like our organization, can come in because the IP cannot produce in big volume,” Mr. Asilo said.

He said that no coffee farmers in the city can produce 180 kilos of coffee beans, one of the requirements for joining the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition (PCQC).

“All that is needed is some push from the DA,” he said.

Davao City is hosting this year’s Philippine Coffee Expo and the PCQC, set on April 2–3.

The expo is jointly organized by the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, Barista Coffee Academy of Asia, and the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA). — Maya M. Padillo