Coffee farmers expect more options for shipment, transport of products

International organization ACDI/VOCA and coffee farmers are optimistic to see positive developments as Davao Region is now gearing to shift to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), which would mean that there will be more options for shipment and transportation for the movement of coffee products from the farms to the shops and cafés. Edge Davao

Reeling from the effects of the health crisis with low sales and downward trend in the purchase of coffee products, Davao Region’s coffee sector hopes to rebound under an improved quarantine status. 

International organization ACDI/VOCA is optimistic to see positive developments as the Davao Region is likely headed to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) status by July 1. According to the group, this would mean that there will be more options for shipment and transportation for the movement of coffee products from the farms to the shops and cafés.

Emmanuel Quisol, business development coordinator of PhilCAFE Project and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, said in an email interview that during their online forum on the coffee industry last June 17, 2020, some of their partners from Philippine Coffee Guild (PCG) has shared that many of the cafes across the region have reported low sales and a downward trend in the purchase of coffee products. 

Quisol said some of the farmers have also expressed challenges in the delivery of their coffee beans because of travel restrictions and difficulty in transporting their goods. 
“With the implementation of an MGCQ, cafés and coffee shops may open their doors to customers following the approved physical distancing guidelines and consumers will have better access to their favorite coffee products,” he said.  

According to him, overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has mainly affected the distribution of products from the farms to the shops and to the consumers, yet, ACDI/VOCA is optimistic that this concern will be addressed soon with the shift to a more or less restrictive community quarantine.
To cope with the impact of the pandemic, the coffee farmers have to adapt to the ‘new normal’. 

“Like everyone else, this will not be easy, and they have to embrace some adjustments with the way they transact business with the key players in the coffee sector value chain,” Quisol said.  

He cited that the PhilCAFE Project is implementing some adaptive measures to ease the situation of the farmers such as the PhilCAFE Project team designed an adaptive training program in response to COVID-19 that allows learning in the rural areas while observing physical distancing and following official guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO).

One aspect of the training program involves radio broadcasts and the first segment of a three-part series of on-air on good agricultural practices (GAP) had its maiden broadcast on May 30, 2020 through a local radio station in Davao City. The broadcast reached areas in Davao Region and some parts of Sarangani Province and was streamed live on the radio station’s official Facebook page.

Virtual training sessions on coffee production were also conducted among farmers and producer organizations (POs) with access to the internet. Similar trainings are currently being conducted for PhilCAFE project-supported POs. 

“These sessions will continue until different levels of community quarantine are still in effect across the region,” Quisol said. 

He added that the PhilCAFE project team also continues its assistance through virtual and remote supervision of nurseries managed by grant recipient POs across project sites. The nurseries have so far showed encouraging progress with many of the POs successfully completing their targets for the month of May. 

“Coffee nursery establishments continue to progress with most of needed materials procured and delivered thanks to the DA that issued food and beverage pass that allowed PhilCAFE Project’s delivery vehicles to circulate,” he said. 

The PhilCAFE Project aims to increase production of conventional and specialty coffee, boost the country’s coffee exports, and build the capacity and expand service provision of coffee value chain. It is funded by the US Department of Agriculture and is being implemented by ACDI/VOCA, an international organization founded in 1963 that fosters broad-based economic growth by promoting economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises, and communities.