THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is pushing for the total value chain development of the coffee sector in Negros Occidental.

DTI-Negros Occidental Provincial Director Lea Gonzales, during the seminar on “Coffee Preparations and Business Operations” at O’ Hotel in Bacolod Wednesday, November 15, said the efforts to develop the local coffee industry should be from production to marketing.

Gonzales said that aside from product development and marketing support, the DTI is also working on linking coffee growers and users with other agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) for more assistance and support services.

The DTI also has good linkages with the Provincial Government through the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) and Provincial Environment Management Office (Pemo), she added.

“Through the national greening program and integrated social forestry program, the province has been active in planting coffee especially among upland areas,” Gonzales said, adding that “it is good that our growers have already organized themselves into a strong coffee association.”

About 40 coffee users and growers in Negros Occidental attended the two-day seminar set until Thursday.

Participating coffee shop owners and farmers were given overview on coffee and trained on coffee growing techniques and technology, care and maintenance and coffee rejuvenation, and basic coffee appreciation and preparation.

The pool of speakers on the first day included Jairus Sirue of DA-Western Visayas and representatives from the Coffee Culture Roastery.

On the second day, speakers include International Affairs Marketing Director of Brydge Philippines Inc. Maria Susanna Edilo, who will talk on Specialty Coffee: Trends and Direction; and Roberto Francisco, executive director of Philippine Coffee Board, who will discuss the Philippine National Standards-Green Coffee Beans, appreciation of green coffee beans, and coffee processing and marketing.

Gonzales said the seminar aims to encourage coffee users to “patronize” local produce, and urge farmers to plant and grow more given that the market demand is big.

She said the province is still insufficient in terms of supply thus, it has been sourcing out coffee beans from the nearby province of Iloilo.

“There are really huge market opportunities for coffee yet the local production is low,” Gonzales said, adding that coffee has remained to be one of the priority commodities in Negros Occidental.

The DTI is stepping up its effort to boost local coffee growers by assisting them in managing their farms to increase productivity.

“We cannot let our farmers to just plant then wait for harvest time,” Gonzales said. (with reports from PNA)