Norwegian agency funds Mindoro coffee plantation

A 400-500 hectares of coffee plantation in Misamis Occidental being financed by Norwegian agency Care Philippines International (CPI) is emerging to supply the needs of local coffee processors and is expected to help supply an increasingly growing coffee market in the Philippines totaling to 55,000 metric tons (MT).
     Joel Glicerio Y. Lumagbas, Nestle Philippines Inc. (NPI) assistant vice president for agricultural services, said Misamis Occidental has already been planting coffee for some time but only on a smaller scale. However, since the entry of a financier, the CPI of Norway, and Nestle’s introduction of a sustainable coffee growing system which encourages multiple cropping in a coffee farm, he said that the Misamis Occidental coffee land began to grow.
     “Most of the new planted coffee farms are now on their second year of harvest. Although they have a history of coffee farming, it was only very small. The program of Care is a forest conservation initiative. They found out that to move away people from depending on the forest for livelihood, they (needed to encourage them) to plant coffee,” he said in an interview.
     The Care program originally aimed to protect the natural resource around the Mt. Malindang in Misamis Occidental has organized farmers’ groups to plant coffee.
     Likewise, Lumagbas said that while coffee used to be a monocrop which leaves farmers without a source of income when coffee price is low, the intercropping of coffee with other cash crops (vegetables, mongo, and peanuts) has been encouraging farmers to plant coffee on new areas. With other income source from cash crops, farmers can wait for a longer time until their coffee farm gives an attractive yield and income.
     The Misamis Occidental farmers, who started planting in 2001, are now harvesting 300 to 350 kilos of coffee beans. Yet, the Nestle official said the farmers are hopeful of harvesting 1,000 kilos (one metric ton, MT), possibly on the third year, which is already a good yield, although Vietnam, world’s largest coffee exporter, yields 1.6 to 1.8 MT per hectare, he said.
     Despite NPI’s technical assistance to farmers, Lumagbas said farmers are not bound to sell all of their production to NPI if they find price of other buyers such as coffee processor Universal Robina Corp. more attractive than the NPI price.
     “It’s not a contract-growing arrangement. We provide them a package of technical assistance for improved coffee production, and Care makes the follow-up,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin Online <http://www.mb.com.ph>>

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