MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is funding the field testing of Robusta coffee clones which were developed by Nestle of France.
The field testing project, which will cost a total of P2 million over the next 2 years, will be partly funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) which has allotted P1 million for the purpose, according to BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.
Other counterpart funds are expected to be raised from different partners.
The test is expected to achieve higher yields for coffee per hectare in Northern Mindanao with target yields set at 2.5 metric tons (MT) or more than double the known 0.5 to one MT yield of coffee trees in the country.
Field testing is being conducted by the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Research Center (Nomiarc), a DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) affiliated agency.
The test will be conducted in three separate sites in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, and Misamis Oriental.
The planting materials for the project were provided in the form of a grant by Nestlè which has done extensive research work on coffee globally.
Seven Robusta clones developed by Nestlè’s research and development facility in France will be field-tested– FRT 65, FRT 17, FRT 23, FRT 07, FRT 11, FRT 01, and FRT 62.
Of these seven, 4 clones are highly promising for productivity in different coffee production environment, according to Nomiarc Assistant Manager Carmelito Lapoot.
The global network of Nestle coffee producers, represented by Nestle Philippines Inc. here, is not directly engaged in coffee planting. But it has been extending technical assistance to farmers on how to grow coffee best.
Supplying Nestlè, other coffee buyers
Nestle’s research and development facility in France announced in 2008 that it developed clones of Robusta coffee that are designed to have superior yield in specific locations.
“Nestle is distributing them (clones) to countless coffee growers across the globe. These producers are suppliers of green beans to Nestlè’s instant coffee division, Nescafe, and the plants are developed to increase yield and income,” according to Coffeehabitat.com
However, Lapoot said Nomiarc also wants to have an option to sell coffee beans to any prospective buyer that offers a good price to farmers.
Once the coffee clones are proven high yielding in the local farms and once these are commercialized, Lapoot said the government also intends to explore other good markets for coffee beans aside from selling these to Nestle.
Increased income for farmers
The field testing project already started in October 2011 and will be implemented over two years.
The coffee clones are targeted to be planted on a potential coffee area of 50,000 hectares in Bukidnon. There are already 6,000 hectares planted with coffee in the province.
The project also aims to increase coffee farmers’ incomes to P115,000 from 2.5 MT average yield from a prevailing P38,000 to75,000 using present varieties which yield about a 0.5 to 1.0 MT per hectare.
Lapoot said the field test aims to prove high yield in three areas– low, medium, and high elevation farms.
Sites identified for the conduct of the field testing are:
- the Research Outreach Station (ROS) for Hillyland Production Environment in Claveria, Misamis Oriental (1000 feet above sea level or ASL)
- the Nomiarc research station, Dalwangan, Malaybalay City (800 ASL)
- the Research Outreach Station for Lowland/Upland Environment in Bukidnon Agricultural Productivity Center, Barongcot, Dangcagan, Bukidnon (400 ASL)
Climate change mitigation
The government through the National Convergence Initiatve of DA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Agrarian Reform, is supporting the planting of coffee trees as this is deemed as a climate change mitigation crop.
Coffee trees are environment-friendly crops that can be inter-planted with other food crops as banana, and they act as erosion control.
Coffee trees may be planted in hedgerows, narrow planting strips that grow along field borders, or as alley crops, controlling erosion. Thus, coffee farms are eyed to obtain carbon credits due to their carbon sequestration potential.
The BAR project aims to produce 90,000 quality coffee seedlings as planting materials. It also targets the establishment of Mother Plant Gardens or nurseries as sources of superior planting materials.
“The most prevalent problem in the coffee industry is the insufficient volume of quality planting materials that have resistance to pests. Our aim is to develop high yielding clones,” said Lapoot and project co-implementor Juanita B. Salvani, Nomiarc center manager.
The project also aims to teach farmers rotation cropping and pest management.
“Farmers should use diverse crop rotations and seek to employ these whenever possible to maintain soil condition, minimise risk of nitrate leaching, and reduce pest and disease development to maximise plant health,” said Lapoot.
The country imports 50,000 MT of coffee bean yearly which may well be supplied by available area in Bukidnon alone given a high coffee yield. – Rappler.com