Stakeholders have expressed optimism President Duterte will sign an executive order this year that will establish once and for all a Philippine Coffee Council to strengthen the coffee industry.
Atty. Lucky Seigfred Balleque, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Compostela Valley told the Habi at Kape media forum that industry players and stakeholders are looking forward to the signing of the EO this year.
“All stakeholders are united in this quest for the creation of a Philippine Coffee Council,” he said in a text message to Edge Davao.
Edge Davao has earlier reported the EO concerned the launching of a national coffee brand. Balleque clarified it referred to a national coffee council.
“The president is supportive of the coffee industry, that’s why we are pushing for the creation of the Philippine Coffee [Council],” said the provincial director during the forum.
The creation of the Philippine Coffee Council will continue the efforts started by Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA) through its Mindanao Productivity in Agriculture Commerce and Trade (MinPACT) project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture which is about to end in 2018.
The provincial director added that DTI will continue to support the coffee industry until the last year of Duterte Administration.
Chief of Party of ACDI/VOCA, Thelonious Trimmell recalled that Philippine coffee was one of the best in the world in terms of quality and one of the largest producers and exporters 1800s and even uplisted in 1950s.
However, he said that in 1990’s to 2000, coffee production was reduced due to price depression in the global market, forcing the local farmers to shift to other crops.
MinPACT project aims to increase the income of 10,600 smallholder coffee, cacao, and coconut farmers in Southern, Northern, and Western Mindanao through increased production, productivity, quality, and strengthening the capacity and services of associations, cooperatives and 600 other value chain players.
The MinPACT project also aims to transition the island region from a commercial grade coffee grower to a producer of fine Robusta and specialty Arabica coffees, and help Mindanaoan farmers tap into the global market by increasing their exposure and knowledge to international coffee standards.
Trimmell added, the Coffee Quality Institute and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI), ACDI/VOCA, through the MinPACT project, sponsors beneficiary farmers and value chain partners to study the Q Coffee System, a renowned and internationally–accepted coffee indentification and scoring system that engages the industry at the producer level to identify lots for specialty, at the export/import level by certifying individuals to grade coffees, and at the buyer level to offer a consumer-facing product with the Q mark.
He explains, the system has resulted in greater opportunity for producers to access the premium price in the market and improve their economic viability.
Trimmell said that with their advocacy on educating farmers, buyers and consumers, farmer organizations on specialty coffee, not only the quality of the coffee will improve but also the farmers will have knowledge on proper pricing of their produce to avoid being deceived by buyers who take their lack of information as advantage to buy coffee for a lower price.
Also attending the forum were the four newly-licensed Q graders who underwent the Q Grader Program of MinPACT, a comprehensive and rigorous six-day training and exam consist of 20 different intensive courses that test their olfactory and sensory skills and knowledge in coffee cupping and other skills necessary. According to Trimmell, they were the only passers out the 15 participants.
Q grading kits were handed to the licensed graders during the forum.