Arabica Coffee Production and Management

Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is a promising economic crop for some areas of the Philippines with an elevation of 1,000-1,500m above sea level, a temperature range of 17-25°C, and with soil pH of 5.2-6.3.

It offers bright prospects for enterprising farmers because of the following reasons: its dried bean commands a price of 80-130 pesos per kilo (twice the price of other coffee varieties); about half of annual domestic demand of 58,000mt is imported (a potential market of 20,000-30,000mt); domestic consumption is increasing at 3% annually; it is one of the priority crops of the Department of Agriculture.

Coffee cherries or berries, which contain the coffee bean, are produced by several species of the genus Coffea. The two most commonly grown species are Coffeo conephora (also known as Robusta coffee) and Coffeo arabica -which accounts for 75% of the world’s production; less popular species which are grown on a smaller scale are Coffeo Liberica and Coffeo dewevrei (Excelsa). All four types of coffee are grown in the Philippines.

C. Arobico is a tropical plant which requires very specific environmental conditions for commercial cultivation. Temperature, elevation, rainfall, sunlight, soils and the pattern of rainy and dry periods are all important and do influence growth and development of the coffee plant. Arabica is a higher value coffee grown in cooler, elevated areas at 1000m (3300 feet) or more above sea level. Normally, higher altitudes produce better beans, not only because they have the effect of increasing the acidity of the bean and thereby improving flavor, but also because the cold nights mean that trees develop more slowly, which allows the beans to develop a fuller flavor.

The importance of coffee in the Philippines cannot be overstated. While the domestic demand currently stands at 65,000 metric tons, domestic production is forecast at only 30,000 metric tons in 2009. The shortfall of 35,000 metric tons has to be imported. The production of Arabica accounts for only 5-10% of the county’s total coffee, but it is well worth looking out for it. Arabica as a high-value crop is known to fetch higher prices and to provide an important source of income and employment for many upland farmers and their families in the Cordillera provinces and Mindanao.

The extension materials on Arabic coffee cultivation are in very limited supply; especially in the more remote areas where opportunities for coffee are often greatest. Thus, these coffee production guidelines aim at providing farmers with basic knowledge on coffee management practices for improving the yield and quality of coffee beans. Topics such as factors influencing coffee production, cultural requirements, harvest and post-harvest management are covered. The information may be used by farmers, extension officers, and those interested in coffee.

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