During a tour of the NESCAFÉ coffee demo farm in the Bukidnon Integrated Coffee Center (BICC), Nestlé Philippines provided media with a preview of Kape’t Bisig sa Pagbangon, its project to foster enthusiasm for agriculture among the youth, while continuing in its commitment to transform farmers into agripreneurs through the NESCAFÉ Plan initiatives.
The Kape’t Bisig project will kick off on October 1 – International Coffee Day – and aims to help build a new generation of farmers, agriculturists and rural development champions through two approaches:
1) a Tiktok Challenge that promotes Filipinos’ affinity with coffee farmers and their children through positive content that honors farmers and highlights the value of their work
2) educational assistance to children of coffee farmers in Mindanao worth PHP10 million from NESCAFÉ Kape’t Bisig.
NESCAFÉ Kape’t Bisig has partnered with three universities in Mindanao – University of Southern Mindanao, Sultan Kudarat State University, and Central Mindanao University – to identify beneficiary students, prioritizing children of farmers in agriculture-related courses.
Kape’t Bisig will grant 400 students with PHP 25,000 each to fund their academic requirements. Education is a cornerstone in securing the future of farmers’ children; and having educated youth in agriculture is essential to ensure the attainment of a food-secure and resilient future.
Audiences can also contribute in celebrating and supporting farmers by joining NESCAFÉ’s Kape’t Bisig music challenge on Tiktok. The Tiktok campaign is an essential part of the project, for just as it is important to cultivate the soil before planting, it is necessary to cultivate the mindset of the youth towards agriculture. There is a need to find new ways to help Filipino youth become attuned to agriculture, such as engaging with them on the social media platforms they are active in, and connecting with them through the content they love – music and dance – to help instill a positive inclination towards farming.
Mindanao produces and grows most of the country’s coffee (83.63 percent), largely in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat. Smallholder farmers are the main producers of coffee in Mindanao, specifically Robusta, which accounts for 72 percent of total coffee production in the Philippines.
Today, the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 to 59 years old, which means that in a few years, they will reach retirement age. Unfortunately, there is waning interest among the youth in agriculture, largely because farming is viewed as a lowly profession, burdened by poverty and heavy labor. If we fail to infuse new blood into the coffee industry, we may reach a critical shortage of coffee farmers in 10 to 15 years, and the fate of Philippine coffee
could be at risk. This will intensify dependence on imported coffee. The same holds true for other agricultural products, with its adverse impact on food security.
One of the biggest ambitions of Filipino farmers is for their children to complete their schooling; however, the dream of having college graduates in the family can be elusive because the majority of coffee farmers continue to live in poverty. Suboptimal or outdated farming practices, compounded by the effects of climate change, have kept farm productivity at a minimum. Low-volume harvests mean farmers are unable to earn enough income to
improve their standard of living – a critical factor in the aversion of youth to a future career as farmers.
According to the Philippine Coffee Roadmap 2021-2025, local coffee production has decreased by 3.5 percent per year over the past 10 years, while coffee consumption in the last three years, 2018 to 2020, has increased by 2.1 percent. The Philippines is only 15 percent self-sufficient in coffee.
The short-term target of the Philippine Coffee Roadmap by 2026 is to increase the average yield of coffee growers to two metric tons per hectare, supplying the needed volume of 164,704.00 MT dried cherries with a self-sufficiency level from 15 to 39.46 percent. The target includes increased farmers’ income and farm productivity, as well as the earnings of coffee entrepreneurs with small and medium scale enterprises.
NESCAFÉ Plan to continue transforming farmers into agripreneurs
As Kape’t Bisig aims to prepare the youth to become the next generation of coffee growers through education assistance, the NESCAFÉ Plan promotes Regenerative Agriculture to help prepare the soil for bountiful and profitable coffee harvests far into the future.
The NESCAFE Plan, with its decades of multisectoral collaboration to deliver meaningful interventions, has succeeded with its partners in increasing participating coffee farmers’ yields and profits by 300 percent. Its banner initiative called Project Coffee+ with the German development agency GIZ has introduced 1,500 farmers to Regenerative Agriculture and entrepreneurship. Some 86 percent of these farmers have since crossed the poverty
By 2021, farmers under Project Coffee+ had achieved an average yield of 900kg/ha from a baseline crop yield of 235 kg/ha in 2018-2019. A group of 192 top performing farmers had increased their yields to 1mt/ha and above.
Results have been monitored and evaluated by the Rainforest Alliance, an international NGO working with businesses to strengthen agriculture, protect forests, address climate change, and uphold people’s rights.
The high local demand for coffee provides a significant income opportunity for coffee farmers if they can ramp up production. Coffee is now classified as a high-value crop due to the annual exponential increase in coffee consumption.
Given the proof-of-concept of the NESCAFE Plan and its programs, Filipino youth can be assured that healthy soil awaits them as our farmers of tomorrow. They can benefit from a good livelihood in coffee, with coffee farming now more sustainable through Regenerative Agriculture, and profitable through agripreneurship.