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Yesterday we had a public stakeholder consultation for the Philippine Coffee Industry Road Map and we had a lot of comments from people from the different parts of the coffee value chain. The action a coffee drinker can do, however, is to plant coffee. We have always been a net importer of this crop since I started in the industry over 25 years ago. So, best is to plant our share of our daily habit.

If a person drinks three cups of coffee a day, we can plant 10 trees of our favorite variety. So a good movement is what the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) will launch this month, October being coffee month as declared by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

Just this morning we heard 1,000 trees being planted in Iloilo, 300 in Davao and so many more next month.  These are of different varieties and soon you can actually adopt a tree and the PCBI will send you the GPS coordinates and you will actually see your adopted tree as it grows.

With coffee prices becoming volatile due to climate change, the Philippines must ensure its own supply of coffee rather than import from other ASEAN neighbors. Global Data, a research firm, already confirmed in a consumer survey that Filipinos will be drinking more coffee at home along with more alcohol if they get a chance to go to pubs and bars that is.

So, if you have not yet acquired a piece of land to plant coffee, you can support initiatives such as this one—donate a tree, and watch it grow. As we were reviewing the industry roadmap, we concluded that we would need to plant millions of coffee trees. Our coffee consumption is ever-increasing and helping the industry to weather the volatile global commodity prices would be to do any or all of the following:

  • Plant more coffee trees. Get in touch with groups like PCBI
  • Choose local coffee when you order coffee from a restaurant or café.
  • Start to brew coffee at home. You will save some money while still enjoying the habit. You have a lot of local coffee to choose from. Now is the time to not rush by using soluble coffee.
  • Encourage young people to get into coffee farming. They can intercrop coffee with cash crops like vegetables, banana, papaya and coconut (for Robusta and Barako varieties)
  • Conduct a tree planting activity using coffee trees. New investors per BOI ruling must plant trees. Please do not plant mahogany as it is invasive and not endemic.
  • If you have one of those capsule machines, shift to a French press or plunger. Or, have a regular drip coffee maker that can take different kinds of coffee for every mood.

Coffee may just be the impetus the agricultural industry needs to make everyone get involved in farming. Young people can surely be enticed to get into coffee production which may be perceived to be sexier than planting pechay and okra.

Many groups are into coffee and it’s a good thing to look at the roadmap together, so we can suggest solutions to the perceived inconsistency of local coffee. If a roaster or coffee shop owner is not ready to embrace local coffee, there are a thousand and one reasons. But once you are ready to give local coffee a try, there are as many reasons to start doing it:

  • Sustainability – farmers will be able to weather the price fluctuations and climate change effects on farming.
  • Organic coffee – most local coffee are backyard-grown and are organic by default or neglect. Now that makes it even healthier to consume.
  • Anti-oxidant qualities of coffee–promotes better health

And last but not least, a lot of studies have shown that drinking coffee may help increase our immunity to get COVID-19. Now that’s an idea we can keep in mind and make us think more positively in these times.

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