Despite the high demand for the Liberica coffee or kapeng barako, increasing its output remains a challenge, according to development professionals from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).
As part of their rapid area-assessment activity, the development professionals explored the current state of the barako coffee industry of Lipa, Batangas.
They found that small farmers do not find coffee farming attractive due the low farm-gate price and high cost of producing the crop.
“One of the challenges is the long, costly and laborious production process of barako coffee. It takes one year to bear fruit and yield berries only once a year, which need to be harvested from trees that grow 15-feet to 30-feet high,” AIM development professional Neil Brian Aguas said in a statement.
Also, he added that barako coffee beans sell for only P40 per kilogram, as small farmers face stiff competition from big commercial farmers, who can vertically integrate expensive processes, such as roasting or grinding without outsourcing them.
“Small farmers have limited access to information about the coffee value chain, not fully realizing that the costly production of coffee yields the least profit,” Aguas said.
“They would rather grow cash crops like pepper, which commands P500 per kilogram, or bananas and tomatoes,” he added.
The aging coffee-farmer population also poses a challenge to increasing output.
“Majority of the younger generation would not carry on their parents’ farming businesses, as they prefer to work in offices in nearby Manila instead of tending to farmland,” Aguas said.
AIM development professionals found that the lack of government support for the industry also inhibits its growth.
“The rise of real-estate development has also taken over land that can be used for coffee farming, and the lack of a long-term development plan and inadequate government assistance to coffee farmers in the form of free or subsidized planting materials and the lack of a strong-coffee farmers’ cooperative also hinder the revival of the industry,” their paper read.
Despite these challenges, the AIM development professionals found that Lipa—the former coffee capital of the Philippines—has an opportunity to recreate its glory days.
The government has partnered with the private sector to revive the barako coffee industry in the country.
For one, the City Agriculturist Office of Lipa propagated 3,000 barako coffee seedlings and distributed 7,000 assorted planting materials. It is also set to launch training, seminars and conventions for new technology in liberica coffee production this year.
The celebration of the Barako Coffee Festival to be held every January is also envisioned to reacquaint Filipinos, especially the youth, with barako coffee.
The country’s average annual production of coffee is 25,000 metric tons.
The Philippines imports coffee from other countries to plug the shortfall of 50,000 MT and to meet the total annual demand pegged at 75,000 MT.
Hi Ms. Padin,
Just a minor correction on some information, coffee beans (roasted ones) are sold at Php 180 – 240 per kilogram in the public market (where Barako beans are mixed with other variants such as Robusta and Excelsa), and Php 1,000 in big stores that sell pure Barako Coffee, where as dried coffee berries are the ones sold at Php 40 per kilogram.