Philippines' coffee production to be rehabilitated.
The projects cover six major researches to be undertaken by the state-run University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB), in Laguna province, southeast of Manila. Programs on information, export promotion, training in marketing, surveys in patterns of domestic consumption, and the preparation of the 10-year coffee industry development plan will be covered.
These projects were announced last May by executive director Antonio Reyes of the local International Coffee Organization Certifying Agency (ICOCA), under the Department of Trade and Industry.
Biggest among the projects is the PP9 million (US $346,000) rehabilitation and crop diversification plan for coffee farms to be implemented by the UPLB in five years. This particular project will identify sites in specific coffee growing areas in the country to help farmers increase their yield. It will also enable coffee farmers to plant other crops in their farms to earn additional income.
The rehabilitation aspect will call for the rejuvenation of coffee plants, using cloning and pruning, to increase the yield per tree. Coffee authorities in the Philippines claim cloning coffee plant, especially the Robusta variety, can increase production by about 200%.
Selection of varieties
Reyes said the second biggest project will involve the collection and selection of outstanding coffee varieties that can be grown in selected areas outside the traditional localities. This covers a five-year period, and costs PP8 million. The work will include characterization, collection and evaluation of the four coffee varieties presently grown in the country: Arabica, Robusta, and Excelsa.
The plan is also to collect and select good varieties from foreign sources, and select outstanding clones from existing coffee farms. The resulting plants will be used to replant the country's old coffee plantation.
Field trials in selected areas will be made for Arabica varieties from non-traditional sources such as the Sierra Madre mountains in northeastern Luzon and Mount Banghaw in southern Luzon.
The program also includes the establishment of processing centers worth PP3 million in selected coffee areas in two years.
The UPLB, the ICOCA head said, will also undertake a PPl.4 million three-year development of an integrated pest management scheme for coffee.
The scheme is expected to control the two most important coffee pests in the Philippines, the coffee berry borer and the black twig borer, which have plagued coffee farms in the country for some time. These two borers have been found resistant to insecticides.
All these measures were prompted by the sliding production and export of coffee in the country since 1988, when it produced some 1.4 million bags, and exported 482,000 bags. Production this year went down to 920,000 bags.
With the suspension of the export quotas under the ICO Agreement, Philippine exports of coffee declined. Last year, the volume reached only 100,000 bags.
The ICOCA traced the low prices for Philippine coffee to low quality as a result of improper harvesting and processing.
Over 40% of the country's coffee exports belong to the lower grades of MI and M3 Robusta coffee grown in Mindanao, southern Philippines.
The ICOCA said there is a need, at this time when coffee prices are low, for coffee planters to rejuvenate their trees to prepare for possibly better prices in the future.
Coffee production this next year in the Philippines is expected to decrease as a result of the drought that has hit the country in the last eight months and destroyed billion pesos worth of agricultural products, including coffee.
Export to Taiwan
Philippine coffee products can now be exported without restriction to Taiwan, according to an official of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Edsel Custodio, export promotion coordinator of the government agency, said Taiwan has lifted import restrictions on coffee products from all sources, including the Philippines, as well as marine products.
The Taiwanese Department of Health had delisted the Philippines as a cholera-infested area as of April 16th.
In 1990, total trade between Taiwan and the Philippines reached US $1.01 billion, with the Philippines incurring a deficit of $596 million.
by Orlino Sol, Palacpac Philippines Correspondent.