What’s brewing? A pitch for FilAms to bring PHL coffee to America

Coffee picking. Photo: PhilCAFE Project

The Philippines, the fourth largest coffee consumer in the world, imports 93 percent of its coffee requirement.

That fact alone opened an interesting conversation about investment opportunities in the Philippine coffee sector, featured in the Philippine Embassy’s first Agri-Negosyo webinar for Overseas Filipinos in the United States on April 8.

The webinar featured presentations by TJ Ryan, Chief of Party of the Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (PhilCAFE) Project advocacy organization; Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for High Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña; and Department of Trade and Industry Regional Director for the Cordillera Administrative Region Myrna Pablo.

Laviña and Pablo discussed how their agencies could support overseas Filipinos who may want to go into the business of producing and distributing Philippine coffee.

Pacita Juan, president and co-chair of the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc., shared the perspectives from the private sector. 

PhilCAFE Project’s TJ Ryan said, “The opportunity in the Philippines is tremendous. It’s spectacular. Ninety-three percent of the coffee is imported, and the growth of brewed coffee is likely to grow in a robust way. Buyers are, of course, looking for producers who can deliver quality on a consistent basis. It’s a question of getting quality planting material, learning, good agricultural practices and good processing practices.”

Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and panelists to the ‘Agri-Negosyo for Overseas Filipinos (USA)’ webinar.

“Coffee is a high value crop,” said Laviña of DAR. “Despite being considered a value crop and a priority commodity, the full potential and growth of the industry are yet to be realized.”

She said that with a limited budget, “We at the Department of Agriculture have been implementing programs toward the development of the Philippine coffee industry.”

DTI’s Pablo discussed her agency’s Industry Cluster Enhancement (ICE) Program, said to be a “national strategy” to enhance industry competitiveness to develop and expand exports, generate investments, and create jobs. 

She said, “Trainings and other technical assistance are given to coffee MSMEs like good manufacturing practices, roasting, green grading, cupping, product development, trainings on e-commerce, and marketing activities like participation in trade fair exhibits.”

Juan of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. explained that her organization “has always promoted niche markets. Since we don’t have a lot of coffee to export, we have to find certain niches in the markets for coffee.”

She also highlighted opportunities for overseas Filipinos such as in planting coffee, providing the coffee farm experience, importing green coffee from the Philippines, or investing in the roasted coffee business. 

“I know that some of you are not ready to come home. You can help us promote Philippine coffee by bringing Philippine coffee to America, albeit in green form so that you can roast it freshly in your neighborhood and put up a neighborhood café. So, I think there is a future to come home to,” Juan told the audience. 

The Philippines grows all four coffee species: Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica, whose one specific variety is the well-known “kapeng barako.” 

“Programs supporting food production and agribusiness (such as coffee) have been a bright spot for investments,” said Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez who keynoted the virtual event.

“Agri-Negosyo for Overseas Filipinos (USA): Insights from the PhilCAFE Project” was jointly organized by the Philippine Embassy, through the Office of the Agriculture Attaché, Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Washington, D.C., and the Public Diplomacy Section, with the support of the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers and Philippine Consulates General in the United States. 

SALON AGNESIA in Jersey City https://salonagnesia.org/

(C) The FilAm 2021

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