A key initiative called Project Coffee+ as part of Nestlé Philippines’ Nescafé Plan has achieved excellent results. Participating coffee farmers have increased average yields by approximately 64 percent in 2021, thanks to improvements in coffee tree care, entrepreneurial farm management techniques and regenerative farming practices.
The Nescafé Plan in the country is a long-term program to increase the supply of Robusta coffee, which significantly underperforms demand, and help farmers increase coffee-growing productivity for a better quality of life. Robusta accounts for 66 percent of local coffee production and is mainly grown in Mindanao.
COFFEE TREES IN BLOOM: Project Coffee+ farmers learn sustainable and profitable farming methods to improve their yield and income. By adopting regenerative agricultural practices on his farm, this farmer can expect an improved income while ensuring responsible coffee production.
Since 2019, Project Coffee+, in partnership with the German development agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has offered a range of training courses to 1,500 participating small farmers in Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon to develop their agripreneurial mindset. The significant increases in their yields and incomes are attributed to their adoption of an agricultural entrepreneurship approach to farms, which involves applying learned skills in better agricultural planning and budgeting, in the search for financial services, money management, and agricultural diversification through intercropping or multi-crop and livestock farming .
The findings were reported by the Rainforest Alliance, an international NGO working on deforestation, climate change, systemic poverty and social inequality, which conducted field-based monitoring and assessment to help the NESCAFÉ plan assess its sustainability performance and the Measure results against goals.
Project Coffee+ beneficiaries harvested an average of 900 kilograms per hectare of Robusta green coffee beans (GCB) in 2021, a significant jump in productivity compared to 549 kilograms per hectare in the previous year. Meanwhile, the average net income of farmers increased from PHP 73,842 in 2020 to PHP 107,204 in 2021. On average, coffee contributed about 51% of total household income in 2021, which is 19% more than in 2020. Commercial crops such as bananas and maize about 24% and off-farm income about 25% of total household income.
Project Coffee+ has trained approximately 1,500 Filipino coffee farmers on good agricultural practices that have been critical to promoting soil health and biodiversity on coffee farms. These include agroforestry, intercropping, cover crops and better care for coffee trees.
The Rainforest Alliance report shows that the adoption of regenerative farming practices such as agroforestry or the use of plant cover and other vegetation, the application of organic matter, and the rejuvenation of coffee trees by Project Coffee+ farmers had a positive impact on the overall harvest.
FARMER WITH COFFEE CHERRIES: A coffee farmer from Bukidnon proudly displays the fruits of his labor and learnings from Project Coffee+. These Robusta coffee cherries will soon be ready for harvest, and farmers will then be able to sell their green coffee beans.
“Regenerative practices are essential to increasing productivity and strengthening communities,” said Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines. “Through the NESCAFÉ plan, we are working to ensure a reliable supply of high quality green coffee beans, improve farmer livelihoods and help protect and revitalize food systems for generations to come.”
Regenerative agriculture is a farming method that improves resource use rather than destroying or depleting it. It is based on agricultural principles that rehabilitate and enhance the entire agricultural ecosystem by protecting and maintaining soil health, promoting biodiversity and a variety of other practices that promote environmental resilience and delicate balance.
“Together with the efforts of our partners and other stakeholders, the NESCAFÉ plan aims to increase the regenerative capacity of farmers and build a future where all of our green coffee beans are sourced from farmers using regenerative farming practices,” said Mr. Marzouki. “As we advance our transition to regenerative food systems, we want to encourage consumers to pay more attention to how raw materials are grown and how products are made when making purchasing decisions.”
In the Philippines, Nestlé is the largest buyer of Robusta green coffee beans. The volume of locally grown coffee purchases increased by 41 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, sourced not only from participants in the NESCAFÉ plan projects, but also from consolidators, smallholders and farmer cooperatives across Mindanao.