More small coffee farmers will soon enjoy better access to high-quality planting materials as the government and the private sector intensified their partnership to build new nurseries and boost technology dissemination in a bid to support an ever-growing industry.

Agriculture Secretary Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and Nestlé Philippines Inc. (NPI) Chairman and chief executive officer John Martin Miller signed on Monday four separate memoranda of agreements for the joint development of Robusta nurseries, mother plant gardens and related facilities in five DA research stations from where farmers can purchase high-yield, disease resistant coffee plantlets at low prices.

Through the fresh partnership, which builds on the gains of a previous MOA signed five years ago, farmers will likewise receive technical assistance, notably on production and post-production technologies, as well marketing support.

The new project sites include the Quirino Experiment Station in Barangay Dungo, Aglipay, Quirino; Bureau of Soils and Water Management property in Barangay Dalwagan, Malaybalay, Bukidnon; and Trento Research and Experimental Station in Poblacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur.

Meanwhile, five hectares more will be added to the existing 12.5-hectare project site at the Northern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Center, to accommodate more nurseries.IMG_1593.jpg

NOMIARC currently houses the Bukidnon Integrated Coffee Center, which includes a DA-certified mother plant garden, a training center, a demo farm and a composting facility. Since 2011, BICC has provided technical help and distributed plantlets to farmers in Bukidnon and nearby provinces, including indigenous peoples known as “lumads.”

In all, the partnership hopes to develop 30 hectares of new project sites, with DA providing more lands if necessary, in a bid to increase the production of Robusta. Robusta is the variety of choice being the raw material for instant coffee, which is extremely popular in the country. It can also be planted in various parts of the archipelago.

“This [MOA] should enable our farmers to get the maximum benefits for their produce,” Secretary Alcala said in his speech during the signing held at Rockwell, Makati City. “

[It] gives our farmers the priority in buying planting materials, and enables [them] to benefit from Nestle’s advanced technology in coffee production.

Miller, on his part, expressed optimism that the collaborative partnership will be instrumental in steering the Philippines towards coffee self-sufficiency by as early as 2020. At present, local farmers could only supply 20% of the national requirement with imports filling in the gap, industry estimates show.

“…It has become necessary to secure the future by reinforcing our capacity to provide the best possible coffee plantlets to as many regions and farmers as possible,” he said.

Miller added: “As a matter of the many challenges we face in the field of agriculture in general, and coffee growing in particular, we remain extremely optimistic, bullish about the achievement of inclusive growth, and of course move closer to our objective of self-sufficiency in coffee by the year 2020.”

High Value Crop Development Program Director Jennifer Remoquilo said seedlings produced in these nurseries will not only help local farmers obtain good planting materials, but is aimed to help other government agencies involved in coffee expansion program as well including Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of National Defense, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Local Government Units among others. (Cath Nanta, DA-AFID)