This article first appeared on philstar.com
CEBU, Philippines — The Philippine Coffee Board Inc., (PCBI) is working with GCash to improve the Philippine’s coffee production, by employing a science-based approach to plant at least 200,000 coffee trees across the country.
Through GCash’s GForest, its digital tree-planting movement, this initiative is seen to re-claim the Philippines’ lead in coffee production worldwide.
The local coffee industry has been facing many challenges, with only 33 percent of coffee beans in the market being produced locally due to various reasons, such as lack of capital, limited knowledge of tree cultivation, and pest control among small and backyard farmers. Even after the coffee beans are harvested, farmers must also face competitive pricing from international exporters.
According to Martha Sazon, GCash President and chief executive officer (CEO), the partnership aims to educate and encourage Filipinos to support local products and at the same time provide opportunities for women, which compose 50 percent of the farmers.
“Using GCash not only allows our users to reduce their carbon emission by going digital but also allows them to take an active role in our reforestation efforts via GForest. Through this partnership with PCBI, we envision building agroforests that will not only help fight climate change but also provide sustainable livelihoods to farmers and support the Philippine Coffee industry,” said Sazon.
The PCBI is a private sector-led group established in 2002 by coffee experts to develop and promote quality Filipino coffee through technical assistance and credit programs to farmers and help them market and promote local coffee for domestic and export markets.
This project will provide much-needed long-term support to local farmers in Cavite, Benguet, Iloilo, Davao, and Basilan, enabling them to start their own backyard farms. This program will also educate them on how to plant local coffee seedlings, learn the science of natural coffee farming, and experience local brewing.
PCBI president Chit Juan shared that the Philippine coffee industry’s demand is roughly around 133 million kilograms, which translates to each person now consuming 3 kilograms per capita. This makes the Philippines the highest in ASEAN and the second in Asia markets in per capita consumption, as of the recent report of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
“I’d like to thank GCash for really appreciating this good cause in planting coffee because although it’s still a far target to self-sufficiency with us only producing 41,000 metric tons out of 133,000; we would definitely be moving the needle with our partnership,” said Juan.
By the end of 2023, PCBI, on behalf of GCash, will begin planting 50,000 seedlings in identified areas such as Cavite and Benguet. In the next two years, the project will expand to meet the goal of planting over 200,000 coffee trees.
Shade trees will also be planted to protect the coffee trees. Shade-grown coffee plantations will help mitigate carbon emissions by capturing and storing carbon through photosynthesis and incorporating it into the plant system. The entire coffee agroforestry ecosystem will act as a carbon sink that can help combat global warming and rising temperatures.
This collaborative project is part of GCash’s GForest initiative, the biggest digital tree-planting movement in the country, which allows GCash users to plant a tree for free by collecting “green energy points” earned from using the app’s various services. These points will be used to plant a virtual tree, and in turn, GCash, together with its local and international partners, will plant an actual tree.
Since its launch in 2019, 14 million users have already joined GForest and planted three million virtual trees. To date, GCash has already planted a total of 2.5 million actual trees on their behalf.
GCash is encouraging users to take part of the green movement by joing GForest. To become a ‘Green Hero’, tap GForest in the GCash app; read the user agreement, and click ‘I want to help!’ then allow access to contacts and health app. Once accomplished, one start collecting energy points.