Nestle, TESDA upskill Mindanao coffee farmers

posted May 22, 2021 at 08:25 pm
by  Othel V. Campos
Nestlé Philippines and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority signed a partnership agreement to educate and upskill coffee farmers and trainers to improve production methods that will help increase coffee yield and sustain the country’s growing farm-to-table coffee industry.

Nestle Philippines chairman and CEO Kais Marzouki
The TESDA-registered Coffee Production Level II Program and Scholarship aims to equip smallholder farmers with new knowledge and skill on progressive Robusta coffee production training and enterprise-based competency training in coffee farming.

“We are grateful to be working with TESDA to promote entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector and enhance the farmers’ competencies in coffee production. We are very honored that TESDA in the development of the certification program, and in providing scholarships to farmers has placed its trust in the best practices and proven subject matter expertise after Nescafe Plan, and its flagship program Project Coffee Plus. Our partnership with TESDA aims to upskill more farmers through meaningful interventions that enable sustainable and profitable coffee production,” said Nestlé chairman and chief executive Kais Marzouki.

He said that under the Project Coffee Plus, farmer participants in Bukidnon and in Sultan Kudarat reported a two-fold increase in yields, and a three-fold growth in incomes.

The Coffee Production Level II program will be initially offered to farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat where 80 percent of the country’s coffee is grown. TESDA granted a Technical Vocational Education and Training certificate to Nestlé’s Bukidnon Integrated Coffee Center to serve as the hub for all coffee production training to be conducted for farmer beneficiaries sponsored by TESDA scholarships.

Located in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, the BICC was established in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture under the National Convergence Initiative and was approved by the Agricultural Training Institute as a learning site for coffee production.

Through the scholarship program, TESDA will train trainers for effective conduct of the curriculum; and provide a scholarship fund under TESDA’s Program on Accelerating Farm School Establishment so that eligible farmers can enhance their knowledge and skills in planting, maintaining and harvesting coffee.

Enrollees will learn to adopt an entrepreneurial approach in managing small farm operations of one to 10 hectares, and gain the skills to effectively market their coffee beans to buyers such as Nestlé.

“With this program, we will enable the farmers and our IP coffee growers to produce quality beans that are at par with the standards of Nestle Philippines. We will also be able to help them increase their yields and help them pursue a more sustainable livelihood. This partnership will scale the impact of the work we do in TESDA for the farmers and IPs. We also commit our pool of highly-skilled trainors and TESDA facilities as additional learning sites to ensure that we can accommodate as many farmer-beneficiaries as possible,” said the TESDA chief Secretary Isidro Lapeña.

For many years, coffee production in the Philippines has been on the decline, with locally-grown coffee meeting only 19 percent of demand in 2019. Coffee production showed signs of recovery earlier this year, after it posted double-digit growth in the first quarter. The Coffee Production Level II program, as well as TESDA’s scholarship fund and support, aims to accelerate this momentum and foster inclusive growth, particularly among Robusta coffee producers.

TESDA and Nestlé hope to nurture the next generation of coffee farmers in an effort to ensure food sufficiency in coffee. The average age of Filipino coffee farmers is 57 years old, so the agriculture sector needs to attract a new generation of farmers who can capitalize on the growing demand for coffee and successfully grow profitable coffee farming ventures.

“For subsistence farmers, they are slowly but surely transforming into agripreneurs. Since we have started manufacturing Nescafe in 1962, we have been really nurturing a close relationship with Filipino coffee farmers. The Nescafe Plan has initiated farmers interventions that promote sustainable farming to ensure that present and future generations of farmers will benefit from participating in the sector,” Marzouki said.

“As you probably know, Nescafe is the biggest locally produced coffee brand in the Philippines, and the leading buyer of the country's Robusta coffee beans. And as such, we want to continue to buy as much locally grown coffee, as we can. And that's why we also confident that this program will contribute significantly to the growth of the coffee sector,” Marzouki said.

The curriculum of the 176-hour certification program is based on proven competency standards developed by Nestlé with the assistance from TESDA. Course content was derived from Nestlé’s Better Farming Practices for Robusta production, along with modules from the Farmer Business School for Coffee jointly developed by Nestlé and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fürInternationale Zusammenarbeit) for Project Coffee+, an agripreneurship initiative of the NESCAFÉ Plan.

Key elements of the curriculum will focus on teaching farmers modern farming practices that follow sustainability standardsand optimize resources to enhance productivity. The program will also provide training in financial and marketing skills to help farmers ensure the profitability of their farms.

At the end of the course, smallholder farmers are expected to have the tools and skills to establish better-integrated and sustainable coffee-based farming systems.

Through this joint program, TESDA and Nestlé aim to help spur inclusive growth in the coffee sector and transform coffee farming into a high-yield, high-income industry in the future.

Nestlé is building on competencies based on industry projection that consumption will be growing 32 percent by 2025. This means that each Filipino may have per capita consumption of close to 4 kilograms of coffee. Coffee production has been on the upward trend growing 12.5 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

“Therefore, our program comes at a very opportune time. It is really imperative for us to intensify our efforts to equip our farmers with the skills to capitalize on these opportunities by training our farmers in best practices. We are hopeful that coffee production will meet this rising demand,” Marzouki said.

Topics: Nestle Philippines , Kais Marzouki , TESDA Robusta production , Sultan Kudarat , Bukidnon
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