As a hands-on farmer of 23 years and a single parent, Elizabeth Javier toils on her Sultan Kudarat farm of almost 14 hectares hoping to provide for her family’s needs all year round. Half of her integrated farm is planted to coffee, and the other half to cash crops like corn, rice, squash, and peanuts. While her cash crops round out her revenues, she relies mostly on coffee beans for a living. Happily, in crop year 2019-2020, her earnings from coffee alone gave cause for satisfaction, and her total net income fulfilled her hopes.
Other farmers consider Elizabeth a coffee production expert owing to her knowledge and familiarity with the crop. They look up to her as a leader and a role model.
Farmers need aid, support
Elizabeth’s farm requires a myriad of implements and consumables, such as fertilizer, planting materials, pesticides or herbicides, a dehuller, and jute sacks. She needs additional labor when harvesting and a way to transport produce to the buying station.
Since farmers need aid and support, Elizabeth is keen to explore all assistance options for herself and others. Research online enabled her to become the first coffee farmer from her municipality to avail of the Land Bank’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, from which she obtained a substantial loan with very low interest rates and moratoria on initial payment. She enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture, which allows her access to agri-fishery related government services, particularly from the Department of Agriculture.
“Hindi lang kami magkapartner sa sakahan ng kape – kasambuhay ng magsasakang Pilipino ang NESCAFÉ,” Elizabeth said, “Para sa akin, personal ang relasyon ko sa NESCAFE dahil kung hindi dahil sa kanilang programa, hindi ako magkakalakas ng loob na palaguin ang aking kabuhayan.”
[Translation: We are not just partners in coffee farming. My relationship with NESCAFE is personal because without their program, I would not have had the confidence to grow my livelihood.]
Improving farmers’ yields, incomes, quality of life
The NESCAFÉ Plan is a long-term initiative of Nestlé Philippines to help farmers who grow Robusta coffee improve their yields, incomes, and quality of life. The program aims to increase sustainable coffee production, while encouraging future generations to engage in coffee farming.
Elizabeth has attended the NESCAFÉ Better Farming Practices (NBFP) technical training courses, which offer instruction in basic coffee growing skills. She has also been taught the Common Code for the Coffee Community or 4C, a set of coffee farm practices designed to help farmers meet the basic social, economic and environmental criteria of sustainable coffee production.
“Ipinagmamalaki ko na magsasaka ako,” said Elizabeth, “Misyon ko ang makatulong sa kapwa kong magsasaka kaya binabahagi ko ang kaalaman ko sa pagkakape.”
[Translation: “I am proud to be a farmer. I’ve made it my mission to help my fellow farmers by teaching them everything I know about coffee production.]
Through participation in the NESCAFÉ Plan, smallholder farmers obtain training and, technical assistance from Nestlé’s agri-services team which shares knowledge on the latest farming techniques, access to the company’s direct buying system, and support from other stakeholders partnering with Nestlé Philippines.
Under the NESCAFÉ Plan, an average of 8,500 Filipino farmers every year have been trained in various aspects of coffee production from 2012-2019. Some 1,500 beneficiaries are participating in the program’s three-year Project Coffee+ in partnership with the GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation), that seeks to increase their yields to one metric ton per hectare. Data from independent verification by the Rainforest Alliance shows an average increase in their net farm income from P30,000 in 2018 to P90,000 in 2019, and productivity from 235 kg/ha to 477 kg/hectare.
In view of her coffee production performance and her dedication to helping others improve their farm operations, Elizabeth has been named a NESCAFÉ Plan Coffee Ambassador, serving as a link between Nestlé Philippines and other farmers, inspiring them to adopt best practices in coffee farming and agripreneurship.
The devotion to coffee of Elizabeth and other farmers like her is a plus for the country, where coffee consumption has grown steadily. Local demand has increased to 100,000 metric tons a year. But despite having the land and weather to produce coffee, Philippine production has decreased from 8.8 percent to 3.5 percent in recent years.
NESCAFÉ is committed to deliver ‘kapeng Pilipino para sa Pilipino’ and this commitment is for buying as much local coffee as possible. Nestlé is promoting increased supply through the NESCAFÉ Plan and looking to source more Robusta beans from Filipino farmers, especially in Mindanao where up to 65 percent of the country’s coffee is grown. As the largest buyer of Robusta coffee beans in the Philippines, NESCAFÉ has been working closely with farmers since the 1960’s.
Empowering farmers like Elizabeth, who is proving that coffee farming can provide a good living, is a way to address poverty and drive economic progress. Meanwhile, her love for coffee farming motivates her to help other farmers achieve better harvests and incomes, towards agricultural sustainability.
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