PROUD MOMENT. A coffee farmer in Bukidnon proudly shows off the abundant coffee cherries as a result of his labor and knowledge from Project Coffee+. In a statement Wednesday (Aug. 17, 2022), Nestlé Philippines, the biggest buyer of Robusta green coffee beans here, says it has facilitated a three-year project to help smallholder coffee farmers develop their entrepreneurial mindset. (Photo courtesy of Nestlé Philippines)

DAVAO CITY – Some 1,500 small coffee farmers in Mindanao have increased their yield and income by around 64 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in 2021.

The increase in harvests came after the completion of the three-year Project Coffee+ launched by Nestlé Philippines through the NESCAFÉ Plan.

The project had 980 Sultan Kudarat and 520 Bukidnon farmers participating in intensive training since 2019 to develop their “agripreneurial” mindset.

“Along with the efforts of our partners and other stakeholders, the NESCAFÉ Plan aims to increase the capacity of farmers for regeneration and build a future through green coffee beans sourced from farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices,” Kais Marzouki, Nestlé Philippines head, said in a statement Wednesday.

The increase in production was reported by the Rainforest Alliance -- an international non-government organization addressing deforestation, climate change, systemic poverty, and social inequity -- that performed monitoring and evaluation to help assess the sustainability of the NESCAFÉ Plan.

The report showed that Project Coffee+ farmers’ adoption of regenerative farming practices such as agroforestry, the application of organic matter, and rejuvenation of coffee trees, have made a positive impact on the total harvest.

“As we move forward in our transition to regenerative food systems, we want to encourage consumers to be more mindful of how raw materials are grown and how products are made as they make purchase decisions,” Marzouki said.

The project, completed in cooperation with the German development agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has provided smallholder coffee farmers with training, mainly in agronomic practices such as grafting, pruning, rejuvenation, and organic and inorganic fertilization.

The significant increases in their yield and income are attributed to their adoption of an agri-enterprise approach to farm operations, which includes applying learned skills in better farm planning, budgeting, seeking financial services, and farm diversification, among others.

The Nescafé Plan in the country is a long-term program to increase the supply of Robusta coffee which lags considerably behind demand by helping farmers increase the productivity of coffee farming towards a better quality of life.

Robusta accounts for 66 percent of local coffee production and is mostly grown in Mindanao.

In the Philippines, Nestlé is the biggest buyer of Robusta green coffee beans. It increased its volume purchase of locally-grown coffee by 41 percent in 2021 over 2020, sourced from participants in NESCAFÉ Plan projects as well as consolidators, smallholder farmers, and farmer cooperatives across Mindanao. (PNA)