As the leading buyer of local Robusta coffee beans, the main ingredient of its coffee brand NESCAFÉ, Nestlé Philippines prefers to source the raw materials for its locally manufactured products from within the country.
Given this preference in the sourcing of ingredients, Nestlé has nurtured a close relationship with Filipino coffee farmers for decades, with the company having started manufacturing NESCAFÉ locally in 1962.
In 2010, Nestlé launched the NESCAFÉ Plan, a global initiative to help ensure a sustainable supply of quality green coffee. Through this program, Nestlé Philippines aims to increase the supply of Robusta coffee in the country while helping farmers increase their yield and income from coffee-based farming. Under the NESCAFÉ Plan, each year an average of 8,000 Filipino farmers are trained in various aspects of coffee production. The program is regarded as one of the more successful stakeholder engagement models in the local coffee industry.
As a banner project of the NESCAFÉ Plan, in 2018 Nestlé Philippines launched Project Coffee+ in Mindanao with the objective of increasing the yield of participating coffee farmers to one metric ton per hectare over a period of three years (2018–2020), thereby increasing their incomes and improving the economic viability of their farming systems.
Under Project Coffee+ some 1,500 farmers (980 in the province of Sultan Kudarat and 520 in the province of Bukidnon) are undergoing training, mainly in agronomic practices such as grafting, pruning, rejuvenation, composting, and inorganic fertilization, as well as the fundamentals of farming as a business.
Along with its partner GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, or the German Agency for international Cooperation GmbH), Nestlé aims to transform the farmers into agripreneurs using the Farmer Business School (FBS) tool and to engage government and other stakeholders who can fill the gaps in the coffee value chain.
Thanks to Project Coffee+, a representative sample of the participating farmers have increased their net farm income from Php 30,000 in 2018 to Php 90,000 in 2019 and their coffee productivity (yield/ha) from 235 kg/ha to 477 kg/ha. Some of them have adopted profitable and best-integrated farming systems with coffee. Systems of or access to local service delivery by farmer groups and organizations for smallholder coffee farmers have improved. Training modules from FBS and good agricultural practices (GAP) featuring production techniques and integrated farming options are now used by stakeholders and public partners.
Farmer success stories
Today, beneficiaries of the NESCAFÉ Plan include model coffee farmers who have been designated as Coffee Ambassadors and are participants of Project Coffee+.
Some have become agripreneurs.
One of them is Arnold Abear of Barangay Bagong Silang, Maramag, Bukidnon. He recalls that when he first set out to grow coffee in 2010, his problem was sheer lack of know-how. “The coming of Nestlé enhanced, added to, and broadened our knowledge about raising coffee,” he recounts.
Now Arnold’s farm is the intercropping model for coffee, abaca and ginger in his area under Project Coffee+.
His coffee yield, from 150 kg/ha in 2010, had increased to 1 metric ton/ha in 2018.
He has successfully availed of the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) credit program with a loan of Php 50,000.
As a result of Project Coffee+, a group in Arnold’s barangay has organized itself into the Bagong Silang Farmers’ Association with 39 members under his leadership as chairman.
Another NESCAFÉ Plan Coffee Ambassador is Benrose “Ben” Subasco of Sitio Blakol, Barangay Masiag, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat who, from meager beginnings on his one-hectare farm in 2011, has metamorphosed with much grit and effort into a coffee-based agripreneur.
Before turning to coffee farming, he had worked different jobs as a security guard, personal bodyguard, direct-hire company guard, carinderia owner, and vegetable farmer.
From 150 kg/ha in 2013, his coffee yield had grown to 2.3 metric tons/ha in 2018 as his knowledge increased with exposure to the NESCAFÉ Plan.
Ben has been able to redeem property that had been mortgaged. He has also been able to buy a motorcycle and home appliances.
His farm serves as a Project Coffee+ demonstration farm. He plans to expand and plant corn and falcata, along with new Nestlé Robusta coffee varieties.
As an agripreneur, Ben now buys and consolidates coffee in his area, and operates a coffee hulling facility.
Ben’s words of encouragement for other coffee farmers: “I realized that in growing coffee, if you do your best to take care of your coffee farm, it is guaranteed that you can get good profit from it. If you work hard and persevere, you will reap rewards.”