Coffee production in the Philippines

Coffee production in the Philippines began as early as 1740 when the Spanish introduced coffee in the islands. It was once a major industry in the Philippines, which 200 years ago was the fourth largest coffee producing nation.

As of 2014, the Philippines produces 25,000 metric tons of coffee and is ranked 110th in terms of output. However local demand for coffee is high with 100,000 metric tons of coffee consumed in the country per year. The Philippines is one of the few countries that produce the four main viable coffee varieties; Arabica, Liberica (Barako), Excelsa and Robusta. 90 percent of coffee produced in the country is Robusta. There has been efforts to revitalize the coffee industry.

The production of coffee in the Philippines is only 0.012% of the world’s coffee production, although in 1880 this state was the fourth largest coffee producer. Much of the coffee grows in the mountainous areas of Batangas, Bukidnon, Benguet, Cavite, Kalinga, Apayao, Davao, and Clavaria.

Early years
Arabica coffee variety was introduced in West Java in 1690. Muslim pilgrims have already smuggled Yemeni seed to west India, the real source of Dutch seedlings, and probably introduced it to Sumatra. West Sumatran coffee was sold to British interlopers and American missionaries spread coffee further, probably to the Philippines in the eighteenth century. Southeast Asian consumption of coffee grew and was closely associated culturally with Islam. Coffee was introduced in the Philippines as early as 1730, when a Franciscan friar planted the first coffee tree in Lipa, Batangas. Coffee introduced from the Philippines came from Mexico. Coffee production was later promoted by Augustinian friars Elias Nebreda and Benito Varas in other parts of Batangas such as Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, and Tanauan. Coffee plantations became part of the foundation of Batangas’ economy and Lipa was later labeled as the coffee capital of the Philippines.

Growth in the 19th century
Following the aftermath of the American Civil War, in the 1865, there was a sudden increase of demand for Philippine coffee in the United States since it became cheaper importing coffee from the Philippines than importing coffee from Brazil. Barako from Batangas was shipped from Manila to San Francisco. Half of the Philippines’ coffee export in that year were shipped to San Francisco. Coffee also began to be exported to Europe following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In 1876, coffee was introduced in the town of Amadeo in neighboring Cavite and the province began producing coffee. However, Lipa remained as the main producer of coffee in the Philippines and Batangas barako costed 5 times compared to Java beans. In 1880, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee beans. Coffee production in competitor regions of Brazil, Africa and Java declined when coffee rust plagued the regions and from 1887 to 1889, the Philippines was the only source of coffee in the world.

Decline in the 1880s-1890s
In 1889, coffee production in the country saw a great decline following the introduction of coffee rust in the country and increased incidence of insect infestation. These elements virtually destroyed all coffee trees in Batangas. By 1891, coffee production in the country was reduced to 1/6 of its total production two years earlier. By this period, Brazil has regained its position as a major coffee producer. Surviving coffee seedlings were transferred to Cavite as many farmers in Batangas shifted to growing other crops.

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Post-World War II
During the 1950s, the Philippine government, with assistance from Americans, introduced a variety of coffee to the country which is more resistant. Instant coffee began to be produced in commercial quantities which resulted to the increase of demand for coffee. Many farmers began shifting back to growing coffee in the 1960s. Importation of coffee were momentarily stopped due to a surplus in the world market due to sudden proliferation of coffee farms. In 1980, the Philippines became a member of the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

21st century
Demand for coffee experienced growth. In 2002, the yearly coffee consumption of the Philippines was 75,000 metric tons. This figure grew to 170,000 metric tons annually by 2018. As of the same year, the Philippines is an importer of coffee due to low coffee production at 35,000 metric tons annually. It imports about 75,000-100,000 metric tons of dried coffee beans amounting ₱7-10 billion from Vietnam and Indonesia according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

By 2016, according to PhilMech, an agency under DA, Mindanao is the leader of local production of dried coffee beans. Sultan Kudarat is the province that produces the most coffee in the island. Coffee production in traditional cultivation areas such as the Cordillera and Calabarzon experienced a decline due to strong typhoons which battered the region in the same year.

Current state
For 2011, the production of coffee reached 30,000 tons per year. Basically in the Philippines, cultivated 4 varieties of coffee: Arabica, excelsa, robusta and liberiku. There are plans to increase coffee production. The conditions for increasing production will be created by the Government of the Philippines in cooperation with the corporation ” Nestlé ” and two large banks. Coffee plantations according to the plan should occupy 200,000 hectares. The main buyer of the coffee produced in the Philippines will be Nestlé, which will purchase about 80% of all coffee produced in the country.

Source from Wikipedia