Coffee brand introduces regenerative agriculture to coffee farmers – Manila Bulletin

Filipinos like to start their day with a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, the local supply cannot keep up with the growing demand. This is where imported coffee comes in.

Coffee is the second most consumed drink in the Philippines, after water. Despite this, the coffee that Filipinos consume comes mainly from abroad. In 2020, only 15% of the coffee on the local market is grown locally.

Coffee cherries turn red when ready to harvest. (Vina Medenilla)

Coffee farmers turning to other crops, inefficient farming practices due to a lack of understanding of good coffee growing practices, aging farmers, climate change and farming approaches that damage soils, among others factors, are some of the contributing factors.

Nestlé saw these challenges and helped bridge the gaps between local coffee supply and demand through its NESCAFÉ coffee brand.

In 2010, Nestlé launched a long-term global initiative called the NESCAFÉ Plan with a vision to help farmers and consumers around the world understand and adopt responsible coffee production, processing and consumption and to educate them about issues affecting the coffee industry.

In the Philippines, the NESCAFÉ plan is “one of the oldest and most successful public-private partnerships in the coffee industry”.

Over the past 12 years, the company’s collaboration with multiple sectors has resulted in significant milestones, including providing training and technical assistance to more than 8,000 Filipino coffee farmers each year and increasing yields, incomes and the quality of life of farmers.

In 2020, NESCAFÉ also partnered with TESDA to offer a certification course in coffee farming, which had 473 graduates in 2021 and 500 scholarship holders enrolled in 2022.

With government assistance, NESCAFÉ continues to produce and distribute high quality Robusta seedlings to farmers. Nestlé Philippines has grown and delivered 16.4 million seedlings to local farmers since 2011.

Robusta seedlings ready to plant. (NESCAFÉ Philippines)

In line with this, NESCAFÉ is committed to prioritizing and sourcing locally grown coffee directly from farmers, cooperatives and consolidators for its products. In fact, NESCAFÉ is the largest buyer of Robusta coffee beans in the country.

Living through climate change

Faced with the worsening effects of global warming, Nestlé launched the Nescafé Plan 2030 globally on October 4, 2022 “to help boost regenerative agriculture, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the means livelihood of coffee farmers over the next eight years”.

Within 24 to 48 hours of harvesting, the coffee beans are dried. Sun drying is the most common drying method. (Vina Medenilla)

Regenerative agriculture is an agricultural approach that optimizes soil health, promotes biodiversity, and protects wildlife and beneficial organisms essential to maintaining environmental balance.

Planting cover crops to protect soils, using organic fertilizers, diversifying farming through intercropping and agroforestry, and pruning and grafting old varieties of coffee with new and improved varieties are some of the principles of regenerative agriculture.

Regarding the Nescafé plan, more than 81% of local coffee farms contacted by Nestlé have adopted intercropping on their farms and intend to introduce more regenerative farming practices to more coffee growers.

Inside Nestlé’s Lipa Integrated Coffee Center (LICC), black pepper, tomato and other crops are interspersed between rows of coffee trees, which is an approach they teach to promote biodiversity while providing additional income to farmers. (Vina Medenilla)

Empowering our current and future coffee farmers is a step towards self-sufficiency in Philippine coffee. Hopefully, with such private and public efforts, we will not get to the point where we run out of coffee trees and are completely dependent on our neighboring countries for coffee.

Photos courtesy of NESCAFÉ Philippines

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