THE Mindanao coffee industry is set to expand production through the Rural Agro-Industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth), a project that aims to boost agriculture-based processing and businesses to be more innovative, productive, and competitive.
“This is a market-driven approach. It also focuses on a value-chain approach from production down to the market, so at the end of the day, syempre yung (of course) farmers, yung (the) processors would not produce if wala silang (they do not have) market. We will make sure na yung mga (that their) products ay talagang magakaroon ng (would have) market,” Lucky Siegfred M. Balleque, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Compostela Valley, said in an interview.
The P2.3-billion project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which aims to help people in the countryside, empowering them to increase their food security, improve nutrition, and increase their incomes by allowing them to be in charge of their development. This program also extends to other crops like the cacao industry and it covers Regions VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that in the first quarter, production of dried coffee berries was 17,160 metric tons (MT), down 6.9% year-on-year. The top producing region was South Cotabato, Cotabato City, Cotabato Province, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (Soccsksargen) with 5,430 MT or 31.7% of the total, followed by Davao Region with 14%, and Northern Mindanao with 12.5%.
Mr. Balleque said that stakeholders will be coming up with a strategic investment plan, which will evaluate various components of the program like grants, loans, training and infrastructure projects. The strategic plan for coffee is set for review on Aug. 27.
GOOD PROGRAMS, BAD MONITORING
A coffee farmer for 25 years, Domingo P. Videña said that the government’s programs need better monitoring to properly disseminate good agricultural practices.
“Sa obserbasyon ko hindi sapat iyon hangga’t wala ‘yung monitoring sa farm. Iyon ang talagang makapagbibigay ng education dahil ang ibang farmers uma-attatend ng seminars pero pag labas ng seminar room, tanungin mo wala namang alam” (My observation is that programs are not enough unless someone monitors the farms. This is what will spread know-how because farmers attend seminars but if you ask them what they have learned, they will say nothing), he said.
He added that unless the program deploys knowledgeable farm technicians, inputs distributed farmers will be wasted.
“Hangga’t hindi nagagawa iyon, ang masayang-masaya diyan ay ‘yung mga insekto na s’yang sumisira ng quality ng produkto natin” (Until this is done, the only ones that will be happy are the insects which destroy our products), he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang