The Philippines is gifted with fertile soil and fertile minds, producing some of the world’s greatest produce such as coffee. Shaping the great minds that determine the direction for this product begins in the campuses―right where the action takes place.
The academe in the Philippines has taken on various roles to promote coffee quality through different programs and facilities. Esteemed universities such as Cavite State University (CSU), Benguet State University (BSU), Central Mindanao University, Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (Mindanao SPAMAST) and University of Southern Mindanao (USM) have recognized the growing importance of coffee in the farming and agricultural sector.
CUPPING FOR COFFEE QUALITY
With the help and guidance of the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc. (PCBI), CSU made it their goal to raise Philippine coffee quality to the highest level. Complete with research and development, the CSU coffee quality center is designed “to complement the thrust of the Coffee Research and Development (R&D) Program titled , ‘Creating Growth in the Countryside through Development of Appropriate Technologies on Coffee Production and Processing.'”
Another quality cupping laboratory in the southern Philippines is at Mindanao SPAMAST. Backed by the Department of Trade and Industry, SPAMAST satisfies the high demand for quality graded coffee not only of the region but of the whole country.
Research centers such as continue to work and collaborate together. BSU Professor Valentino Macanes, also the Director of the Institute of Highland Farming Systems and Agroforestry, has started a cupping lab from these interactions. The aim of this lab is to train more Q graders in the Cordillera region. Professor Macanes has helped develop highland farming programs and initiatives and has shared ideas with coffee researchers and research centers. This assistance is a very crucial development because highland coffee is sought after around the world due to its flavor advantage brought by altitude and temperate weather.
RESEARCH TO DEVELOP
Coffee research is an important tool that paves the way to ensure sturdier crops. While several universities realize its value, USM has been a coffee research leader through published and ongoing studies into coffee. The Philippine Industrial Crops Research Institute (PICRI) from USM is also the national research institute for coffee.
CMU’s pillars of education go beyond instruction and research. One of its major functions includes the production, protection, management, and development of the agri-based and forest-based entrepreneurships in order to generate income as well as to provide support services to instruction, research, and extension.
The University Income Generation Program, which generates income and provides employment opportunities for the unemployed in nearby communities, includes a division for plantation crops. The Plantation Crop Production Division (PCPD) is responsible for the implementation, management, and operations of the plantation crops production projects to include rubber, coffee and cacao, fruit crops and commercial nursery, coconut, cassava, sugarcane and other crops.
Beyond the school, CMU has been working with various organizations, including Coffee for Peace (CFP), to build academic programs that train social entrepreneurs in the context of building peace in Mindanao.
SEEDING THE FUTURE
The important role of science, technology, research and development in coffee production is acknowledged and now implemented in coffee growing, production and improvement. Expect great things to come out of these establishments for the improvement of Philippine coffee one cup at a time.
PCBI works in partnership with these scholarly institutions, hardworking farmers, and supportive government and non-government institutions to weave the different sectors together, preparing the fertile ground to plant the seeds for quality coffee.
It is said that “the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” Knowing that the academe is involved in shaping tomorrow’s farmers, entrepreneurs and researchers gives us renewed hope in the future.
(article by Ann Kuy / photo by Keith Dador)