BAGUIO CITY – Coffee industry stakeholders raised concern over the increasing number of aging farmers, the presence of old coffee trees and the massive land conversion of coffee plantations to other cash crops which continue to impede the growth of the country’s coffee industry, one of the projected drivers of the economy in the next few years, an industry expert said here Wednesday.
Dave Santos, chairperson of the Committee on Commercial Crops of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), said the average age of coffee farmers is 56 years which means that they are now aging without the emergence of younger generations to take their place and sustain the gains of the lucrative coffee industry by the year 2022 and beyond.
“Our present-day coffee farmers should start cascading to the younger generations the proper coffee farming techniques for them to inherit coffee production as one of the major sources of livelihood as coffee could be inter-cropped with other agricultural crops,” Santos stressed.
He said the yield of a coffee tree in the country which is currently at 0.6 kilos per tree is way below the global standard of 1 to 1.5 kilos per tree to guaranteed sustained income for coffee farmers practicing appropriate farming techniques and strategies and have the necessary technologies for storage and processing of the harvested coffee beans.
Aside from older farmers educating younger coffee farmers to be actively involved in the lucrative industry, Santos also called on the state universities and colleges offering agriculture courses to make coffee production one of their specializations to allow agriculture graduates to have a direction after graduating from their chosen courses.
Further, he claimed successful young coffee farmers should come out in the open to serve as models to emulate and learn from them their successful strategies in the producing one of the most traded products in the world.
He admitted the country’s coffee industry had been stagnant through the years because of the aging farmers coupled with the old coffee trees, thus, the need for concerned government agencies to intensify the rehabilitation and rejuvenation of old coffee trees in the different parts of the country to increase their production.
The PCAF official underscored the importance of rehabilitating and rejuvenating 10 to 15-year old coffee trees to help improve their productivity and the farmers’ ability to earn additional income, aside from aggressively promoting coffee as a main sources of livelihood, especially in areas identified for coffee production, such as the Cordillera that has been identified for Arabica production.
At the same time, he claimed there are around 117,451 coffee trees in the country that produces more or less 37,474 metric tons of coffee beans which is not enough to supply the country’s current buyers.
Santos added it is high time for the coffee industry stakeholders to intensify the production of quality coffee beans to close the gap between the supply and the demand not only in the local market but also in the international scene. HENT