Despite recent growth in the Philippine coffee industry, young people remain a challenge to engage in the country’s coffee sector. Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE), an activity funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, works with coffee industry experts as well as colleges and universities in the Philippines to help coffee producer improve their productivity and profits. This includes working with youth to demonstrate the promise of conventional and specialty Philippine coffee markets.
In late August, Morgan Haas, an agricultural counselor with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), met with participants of PhilCAFE in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Accompanied by Florence Sevilla, of USDA/FAS, and PhilCAFE’s regional office team, Haas lauded PhilCAFE for the progress it has made, especially among youth and educational institutions.
“The reality is that we have a difficult time inspiring young people to get involved in agriculture and agribusiness, and that is not what I have observed here during this visit.”–Morgan Haas, Agricultural counselor, USDA/FAS
Haas was excited to see youth involved in coffee production because their participation helps build the sustainability of the industry. During the visit, Haas and Sevilla met with members of the Taloy Farmers’ Cooperative (TAFARMCO) in Tuba, Benguet, where they observed a training on good agricultural practices and discussed problems and trends in the coffee sector. PhilCAFE’s regional office team is currently working with members of TAFARMCO to develop and implement their coffee agribusiness investment plan.
The USDA team also visited the coffee farm of Shirley Palao-ay, who was a top 12 finalist in the recent Philippine Coffee Quality Competition 2021. At the farm, they learned how Palao-ay gradually improved the quality of her coffee, resulting in her success at the competition, which is considered the most prestigious coffee quality competition in the country.
“What makes [PhilCAFE] so promising is that it involves various participants that include key government agencies, educational institutions, along with key players in the entire coffee value chain.”–Morgan Haas, Agricultural counselor, USDA/FAS
Haas also addressed students at the Philippine Nazarene College, where he formally opened a coffee nursery designed as a “farm-to-cup” coffee education and diploma program. PhilCAFE, the Philippine Nazarene College, and the Gintong Aral Skills Development Academy, Inc., teamed up in October 2020 to formalize this program, which aims to increase engagement among young farmers in coffee production.
During their visit to the campus in La Trinidad, Haas and Sevilla planted coffee trees with the help of Allan Prado, the college’s president, Christine Abellon, PhilCAFE’s regional coordinator, Ollie Thor Fonite, president of the Cordillera Quality Coffee Association, and Karen Pagaduan, planning officer and regional coffee focal person for the Department of Trade and Industry.
“Coffee has a way of bringing us together as a community. . . . We need this more than ever, particularly as we get out of this COVID-19 pandemic, to reestablish our community connections, to be with our friends and family. And what better way to do that than over a great cup of Philippine quality coffee.”–Morgan Haas, Agricultural counselor, USDA/FAS
Learn more about Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE).
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