Coffee warriors fight to save weakened ‘barako’ from bitter end | Inquirer Business
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Coffee warriors fight to save weakened ‘barako’ from bitter end

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 05:20 AM January 31, 2020

The production of the famous Filipino coffee variant known as “kapeng barako” is under threat following the eruption of Taal Volcano that destroyed hectares of farms in Cavite and Batangas provinces.

The ash belched by the volcano has damaged about 3,563 metric tons of coffee, or 71 percent of the industry’s estimated production in the region, according to the Department of Agriculture.

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In a press conference by the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) on Wednesday, board member Rene Tongson said losses to the coffee industry may reach P2 billion over the next two years considering the potential revenues from the processing of coffee beans.

Alejandro Mojica, another board member, said it could take two years for farmers to recover given the nature of growing the cash crop.

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“The new leaves would take two years before it bears fruit,” he said. “The harvest this year and the next are already gone. There were some trees in Alfonso and Indang [in Cavite] that survived but there would be a significant decrease [in production].”

While the country has been importing the majority of its coffee supply, 95 percent of the barako variant is grown in the provinces of Cavite and Batangas due to its topography and climate.

Three other countries—Malaysia, Ethiopia and Vietnam—produce the same variant but Commune coffee shop owner Rosario Juan said the taste profile of the local liberica is still different. It has a taste similar to jackfruit, she said.

“It’s a heritage variety for the Philippines. It’s something really Filipino. I believe that we have to keep it going not just to save barako but we have to save our farmers. They have to survive as well,” PCBI board member Manny Torejon said.

The official added the setback has discouraged some coffee planters to switch to planting other crops—a disheartening but understandable decision on the part of local growers who have suffered huge losses.

As such, the organization is looking to take a third of the remaining coffee production in the region over the next

few years to assure the con­tinuous availability of the kapeng barako. Plans are underway to diversify its production areas to other provinces with similar land and weather conditions such as Bohol and Palawan.

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PCBI said consumers should expect a slight uptick in the prices of local coffee in general, but also implored the help of Filipinos to support local agricultural products.

“Farmers may be encouraged to go back to farming if prices spike a little bit. This is a crisis but also a unique opportunity for our farmers,” board member Guillermo Luz said.

Inquirer calls for support for the victims of Taal volcano eruption
Responding to appeals for help, the Inquirer is extending its relief to the families affected by the recent eruption of Taal volcano.
Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.
Inquiries may be addressed and emailed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through [email protected]
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TAGS: Filipino coffee, Kapeng barako, Taal Volcano
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