OTHER than its majestic view and rich biodiversity, Mt. Apo also holds the future of the coffee industry in the Philippines.

There is already coffee being produced from Mt. Apo, one of Mindanao’s iconic mountains. It is also where the winning coffee that Marivic Dubria competed in the Philippine Coffee Quality Competitions is grown. But the coffee repertoire around the mountain’s foothills will be expanding with the ongoing Arabica varietal study in Kapatagan, Davao del Sur.

In a project Agroforestry Coffee Development Center (ACDC) by the US-based nonprofit organization Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA) through its Philippine Coffee Advancement and Farm Enterprise (Philcafe), 19 varieties of Arabica coffee from Hawaii, Laos, and Brazil are currently being studied for its performance, quality, elevation requirements, resilience to pest and diseases, and production capacities under the Philippine climate and condition.

These varieties are the Typica, Bourbon, and Pacamara from Hawaii; T5175, P88, B02, SJ 133, Java, P90, P86, LC 1662, and T8667 from Laos; Sabia Tardio, Mundo Novo IAC 37,9-19, Catigua MC2, Bourbon Amarello, Catuai Vermelao, and Catuai Red from Brazil; and the local Typica variety Miarayon from Bukidnon. A total of 1,000 three-year-old coffee trees of these varieties are being grown and observed in the farm.

The five-year project is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and supported by the Embassy of New Zealand.

“If certain varieties come out as superior, that would be the basis of recommending for mass production and later maybe distribution to farms,” Philcafe regional coordinator for Davao and Caraga regions Ludovico Ramirez Jr. said.

He added these varieties have great potential of producing good quality coffee and diverse coffee profiles, fragrance, and aroma especially when Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in the production and post-harvest handling and processing are followed by the farmers.

He said the Philcafe also partnered with the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (Spamast) in Digos City through its research, development, and extension division responsible for data collection, validation, and publication of the results of the study.

Philcafe chief of party T.J. Ryan said aside from the coffee farm, the center also housed a nursery and a processing area – all the facilities needed in the coffee value-chain except for the roasting and coffee shop.

He said the nursery can hold around 50,000 and 60,000 seedlings.

Meanwhile, the processing facility was used November last year for the only set of Q Processing training in the Philippines conducted by the US-based Coffee Quality Institute (CQI).

The training aims to help existing coffee processors and farmers produce specialty coffee through different processing methods.

“It is a pretty complete facility. From the learning perspective it’s great. We will learn about good quality planting material, good processing techniques, and some nursery production as well,” Ryan said.

In his presentation during the launch of the first Philippine Coffee Expo 2020 on Thursday, January 16, Ryan said the Philippines has the ideal soil and climate to grow coffee that farmers must take advantage of.

“You have suitable conditions in many places throughout the Philippines so the opportunity to produce coffee profitably and meet the growing demand is great. I really think this is a big opportunity in the Philippine coffee sector,” he said.