Drinking coffee is ingrained in Filipino culture. A classic Filipino breakfast pairs bread with a steaming cup of coffee. Hot pandesal dunked into coffee with milk is a match made in heaven.
In some regions, coffee-soaked rice is the ultimate comfort food. The rich aroma and bittersweet taste of coffee are the day's kickstart.
For coffee aficionados, a morning without a cup of coffee is like a day without a burst of sunshine.
"Kape tayo!" has become a term when one wants to catch up with a friend. Even our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal favored robusta coffee as his writing companion, crafting poems, love letters, and iconic novels like Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.1
Ideal environment for coffee farming
Given the country's location in the coffee belt, the Philippines offers an ideal environment for cultivating coffee, and is one of the few countries that produces the four varieties of commercially-viable Robusta, Excelsa, Arabica, and Liberica.2,3
Coffee farming situation in the Philippines
As a coffee-loving country that has the ideal climate conditions for growing coffee, it comes as no surprise that Filipinos are among the world's leading coffee drinkers.
The demand for coffee is steadily rising, however, only 27% of this demand is met by local production while the rest is imported.
Low coffee production may be attributed to suboptimal farm practices, inadequate knowledge of coffee technology and a lack of access to quality inputs, credit, and financial resources. Our coffee's future also faces threats from climate change, crop diseases, water scarcity, and rural-to-urban migration.
There are approximately 46,000 Filipino coffee farmers registered with the Department of Agriculture, with the average age of farmers in the Philippines estimated at around 57-59 years old. Most of them are smallholders tilling 1- to 2-hectare farms, and many of them face economic challenges.
The government and the private sector are continuously developing ways and means to help and improve our coffee industry and the livelihood of our coffee farmers. But who will take over the farm when our farmer's time to retire has come?
The perception of farming as an infeasible source of livelihood discourages youth from pursuing careers in agriculture, leading to a declining interest in agriculture studies and a reluctance among the children of farmers to inherit their family's farming legacy.
This is where the 'Nescafé Plan' steps in.
Nurturing the future
Launched in the Philippines in 2012, the Nescafé Plan is one of the country's most extensive continuous private-sector efforts of its kind. Since then, it has trained an average of 7,700 Filipino coffee farmers annually since 2012 along with communities and farmer organizations.
A banner initiative of the Nescafé Plan is the Project Coffee+ which was established in 2018 through a partnership with the German development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and other collaborators. Project Coffee+ has transformed 1,500 farmers in Mindanao into "agripreneurs" who treat farming as a business rather than mere subsistence. These farmers witnessed a threefold increase in their average yields and incomes in 2021 compared to their 2018 figures.
Looking ahead, from 2023 to 2025, phase two, known as Project Coffee++, will focus on helping boost incomes by transforming livelihoods and propagating sustainable and regenerative agriculture. This will help develop resilience to climate change among participating smallholder farmer and further improve the productivity of their farms.
As initiatives like Project Coffee+ continue to support existing coffee farmers, we must also look towards inspiring the next generation of coffee farmers.
Kape't-Bisig music challenge
On International Coffee Day, let us raise our mugs in appreciation of our coffee farmers' hard work. Coffee lovers may also play their part in nurturing the next generation of farmers.
Through Kape't Bisig, NESCAFÉ will provide a 10M-peso education assistance fund for children of coffee farming communities. This will help them complete their studies, specifically those taking agriculture-related courses.
Social media-savvy Filipinos may also play a part in building the next generation of farmers by participating in the Kape't Bisig Music Challenge. Each dance or duet to the NESCAFÉ Bangon song contributes to a public outpouring of support for farmers, and helps to inspire their children to continue their legacy of farming.
Through the Nescafé Kape't-Bisig Music Challenge, you may help raise awareness on the need for agriculture advocates among the youth, and building a more favorable environment for farming.
The future of the Philippine coffee industry hinges on collective efforts. Initiatives like the Nescafé Plan and Kape’t Bisig help ensure that our next generation of farmers enjoy a future wherein coffee farming remains as a sustainable livelihood and a thriving sector of our society.
Together, we may preserve the essence of a good-quality coffee, helping ensure it continues to brighten our mornings.
To learn more about how you may support the education fund for our next-generation Filipino coffee farmers, follow the official website of Nescafé.
1.Philippine News Agency. Cabuyao City revitalizes production of Rizal’s favorite Robusta coffee. April 14, 2018.
2. Department of Agriculture. 2017-2022 Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap.
3. Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research through the UPLB Foundation, Inc. in collaboration with the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries. The Philippine Coffee Industry Roadmap (2021-2025).
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