MANILA - Nestlé Philippines and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA signed Wednesday a memorandum of agreement to upskill 400 scholar farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat, and transform them into agricultural entrepreneurs.
The TESDA-registered Coffee Production Level 2 program and scholarship aims to help smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, and even former rebels become more proficient at coffee growing.
Nestlé meanwhile will provide technical know-how and purchase the coffee products of the participants.
“We as Nestlé Philippines, we are the biggest buyer, but we still need to import, because all the coffee in the Philippines is less than 20 percent of the needs of the Filipinos,” said Kais Marzouki, chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines.
Marzouki said coffee production grew 12.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021, a promising step toward filling local coffee needs. Nestlé also noted Filipino coffee consumption is rising by 33 percent, with each adult Filipino expected to consume as much as 4 kilos annually.
“This partnership will scale the impact of the work we do in TESDA for the farmers and IPs,” said TESDA Director General Isidro Lapena.
Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat were chosen as the site for the pilot phase of the training program because 80 percent of the Philippines’ coffee is grown there.
After Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat, Nestlé and TESDA said they intend to expand their training program to Batangas and Davao.
The value of agriculture production contracted by 3.3 percent in the first quarter, even as crop production grew by 3.3 percent. Overall farm output was dragged down by livestock, specifically pork meat, with the industry still suffering from the African swine fever outbreak.