The Yokohama Women’s Business Festival will showcase Cordillera-grown coffee in its trade fair on November 7-14 in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.
It will be the first occasion where products under Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s National Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Program (NICCEP) will be introduced to the Japanese market.
In a special meeting of the Coffee Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) last August 4, it was agreed that Benguet and Kalinga will send Robusta coffee, while Mountain Province will send Arabica. If the coffee samples pass the Japanese standard, each province shall transmit twenty 200-gram packs of green beans and another twenty 200-gram packs of roasted coffee to DTI, which will then be hand carried to Japan by JICA Design Consultant Yoritoshi Yoshida.
Initially, Mr. Yoshida initially requested fifty 200-gram packs of green coffee beans and roasted coffee during the Coffee Package Design Workshop on July 28. However, the provinces argued that harvest time for coffee starts in November. Mr. Yoshida lowered the number to twenty to which DTI Regional Director Myrna Pablo committed.
In the said workshop, Mr. Hirofumi Yamamoto, JICA’s coffee cupper volunteer said that he was impressed with the tastes of the Robusta and Arabica varieties. He even described these as G1 or that of the best varieties.
The region’s climate has also helped in producing the best varieties of coffee in both lowland and upland elevations, making coffee growing a steady source of income for smallholder farmers. The region has 24,009 coffee farmers providing for the coffee industry.
In 2013, the region harvested 5,465 metric tons of coffee berries from 6,695 hectares. In the same year, Kalinga produced the most coffee accounting for 3,699 metric tons or 68% of the regional coffee production from its 10,724 coffee farmers in its seven municipalities. Ifugao comes next, sharing 22 percent of the total coffee production in the region.
Arabica coffee is the most popular and the most promising variety grown in the Cordillera. Benguet harvested 75% of the total regional Arabica production in 2013. Mountain Province’s terrain, weather and altitude go well with growing both Arabica and Robusta varieties while Ifugao mainly cultivates the latter.
In the Coffee RTWG, NEDA-CAR/RDC leads the group that will establish and sustain an enabling business environment for coffee.
According to the Highland Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (HARRDEC) write-up, the other different regional line agencies have also extended their support to the coffee industry in the region.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agency Agriculture Training Institute (ATI), the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) provides nursery establishment, irrigation support, technology demo farms and equipment and facilities on coffee-related activities. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has also named coffee as one of its priority crops. The National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) makes nurseries, seedling production and plantation establishment available to the farmers.
by Christine Mamuyac, SPCAR