Pangilinan vows to support coffee sector

July 24, 2011

Rose Dela Cruz
The Philippine Star
July 24, 2011

Manila, Philippines – Shocked by the massive 40,000 metric tons or P4 billion annual importation of coffee to meet domestic requirement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan has vowed to finance the Echo coffee farming village in Amadeo, now a major supplier for Metro Manila’s coffee shops of Barako.

Pangilinan said he will provide a P5-million common service roaster to Amadeo farmers so they can put more value into their beans during harvest.

Pangilinan recalled that the country used to be the fourth largest exporter of coffee in the world prior to the eighties.

He also vowed to support, through his pork barrel funds, the establishment of demo farms, where coffee will be grown side by side with either organic vegetables and other high value crops both  as agri-tourism and to ensure that farmers get more income from the coffee lands they are tending to.

Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate agriculture committee, visited Thursday the 4,000-hectare coffee farms in Amadeo, Cavite including the 1,800-square meter Echo coffee village run by Philippine Coffee Board co-chairperson Pacita Juan.

The senator met with local government executives headed by Mayor Benjo Villanueva, barangay officials, coffee farmers and agriculturists  to find out what needs to be done to revive the Philippine coffee industry.

Cavite used to have 12,000 hectares planted to coffee but lost around 5,000 hectares through cutting of coffee trees when world market prices for the bean dropped to P30 per kilo.

But prices have gone up to P100 per kilo and farmers are seeing better prospects in coffee than in root crops that they are now planting.

And with climate change, the harvest of coffee worldwide has become unpredictable which is why prices have been seesawing wildly, explained  Juan.

The bulk of importation is being made by Nestle Philippines and the rest by the smaller importers, who in turn supply the coffee shop chains and the retail markets with the beans from abroad.

Around 10 demo farms will be funded out of Pangilinan’s pork barrel funds for P150,000 per farm and Pangilinan also committed to allot P10 million to fund other Echo demo farms that will be set up in other coffee growing provinces.

The demo farms will inspire farmers to keep on growing coffee and other crops in-between coffee trees and teach them sustainable farming, Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said he wants better results from these endeavours come coffee harvest in January, where he said he expects Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to be present.

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