Achieving quality coffee through postharvest technology system

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by Leoveliza C. Fontanil

Coffee is one important drink that Filipinos are familiar with. Studies have shown that today’s demand for coffee is increasing by 2.4 percent every year. It is projected to rise in the coming years, as more and more Filipinos drink coffee every day.

From being one of the top coffee exporters in the world, the Philippines has now become an importer to other countries.

To lessen the importation of coffee and potentially reclaim its former spot in the coffee industry, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is envisioning an increase of its coffee productivity and profitability. However, due to improper postharvest handling practices, the quality of coffee being produced does not meet the high-quality grade. Inept and poor handling practices of our local coffee farmers in harvesting coffee berries is one of the cited problems that cause low quality grade of our coffee bean.

Dr. Helen O. Martinez, supervising science research specialist of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), has been looking into various technology interventions on coffee ever since the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) assisted the funding of her coffee projects in 2015. The project titled, “Developed Postharvest Technologies and Business Model for Sustainable Coffee Processing Enterprise” tried to evaluate the different harvesting and postharvest handling methods of different coffee varieties achieving a good quality grade.

The results of her project were presented in a free, public seminar organized by BAR.

Through the project, Dr. Martinez developed a package of Post-Harvest Technology (PH system) of quality green and roasted beans for Arabica and Robusta varieties. The PH system is a new approach to coffee crop processing (wet method –washed, dry method-natural, pulped method-semi-washed) techniques. She likewise was able to establish business models for Community-Based Coffee Processing Enterprise also known as the “CBCPE Business Model”.

The CBCPE Business Model is a conducive protocol assembled by PhilMech for coffee farmers. Under the protocol, the members should sell dried coffee parchment or fresh berries to the processing center. The members and non-members patronize and avail services of the cooperative. The cooperative creates its own business management team to manage the coffee processing operation of the CBCPE. As a practical guide, the marketing of coffee beans and roasted coffee is integrated in the practice of e-marketing their coffee products which would create a competent business management team.

Dr. Martinez claimed the technical and socio-economic benefits of adopting the technology as it: 1) increase the percentage in the volume of coffee processed; 2) improve the quality of green coffee beans and roasted beans; 3) generate employment opportunities especially to rural women; 4) boost confidence of farmers to expand the market of their coffee products; and 5) encourage more coffee farmers to plant more coffee trees as it increases the demand.

At present, PhilMech is providing assistance to various cooperatives and associations including Talbak Coffee Growers Association in Trinidad, Bulacan, IMDALSA Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and Mt. Apo Coffee Association in Pasay City.

The groups of coffee growers are included in 2017 top 10 local quality producer of Robusta and Arabica green coffee in the Philippines.

Dr. Martinez mentioned that PhilMech is in the process of transferring the technology on improved postharvest technologies system to its end-users and reaching for other possible adopters to establish more coffee enterprise in Philippines.

PhilMech has also developed information materials that they have incorporated along with the list of recommended specification of equipment for postharvest and processing of coffee per handling operation.

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