President Duterte will sign within this year an executive order that will establish the Philippine coffee brand due to a growing clamor by industry players and stakeholders.
Atty. Lucky Seigfred Balleque, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry for Compostela Valley disclosed this on Wednesday during the Habi at Kape media forum at the Abreeza Mall.
Also guesting in the forum, Chief of Party of Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), Thelonious Trimmell said that Philippine coffee was one of the best in the world in terms of quality and one of the largest producers and exporters 1800s and even uplisted in 1950s.
However, he said that in 1990’s to 2000, coffee production was reduced due to price depression in the global market, forcing the local farmers to shift to other crops.
One of the efforts to revitalize the industry is through the Mindanao Productivity in Agriculture Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) project, a project implemented by ACDI/VOCA and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The project aims to increase the income of 10,600 smallholder coffee, cacao, and coconut farmers in Southern, Northern, and Western Mindanao through increased production, productivity, quality, and strengthening the capacity and services of associations, cooperatives and 600 other value chain players.
The MinPact project also aims to transition the island region from a commercial grade coffee grower to a producer of fine Robusta and specialty Arabica coffees, and help Mindanaoan farmers tap into the global market by increasing their exposure and knowledge to international coffee standards.
Trimmell added, the Coffee Quality Institute and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI), ACDI/VOCA, through the MinPact project, sponsors beneficiary farmers and value chain partners to study the Q Coffee System, a renowned and internationally–accepted coffee indentification and scoring system that engages the industry at the producer level to identify lots for specialty, at the export/import level by certifying individuals to grade coffees, and at the buyer level to offer a consumer-facing product with the Q mark.
He explains, the system has resulted in greater opportunity for producers to access the premium price in the market and improve their economic viability.
Trimmell said that with their advocacy on educating farmers, buyers and consumers, farmer organizations on specialty coffee, not only the quality of the coffee will improve but also the farmers will have knowledge on proper pricing of their produce to avoid being deceived by buyers who take their lack of information as advantage to buy coffee for a lower price.
Also attending the forum were the four newly-licensed Q graders who underwent the Q Grader Program of MinPact, a comprehensive and rigorous six-day training and exam consist of 20 different intensive courses that test their olfactory and sensory skills and knowledge in coffee cupping and other skills necessary. According to Trimmell, they were the only passers out the 15 participants.
Daniel Byron Pantoja, one of the Q graders said that with the growing awareness of the public to specialty coffee, he sees people getting inspired with the Filipino farmers who now begin to grow quality coffee that could compete to international brands.
“It’s a domino effect,” he stressed as he said other farmers are now encouraged to grow specialty coffee.
Trimmell also said that coffee shops in the country begin to look for specialty coffee in the local market instead of buying coffee beans from foreign counties, a sign that efforts of the industry players are producing good results.