Coffee is life – as many Filipinos would say. It serves as an energy booster, breakfast, or even just a simple treat for some of us. The role of coffee in the lives of most Filipinos can be condensed into a cup or two. For our farmers, it’s a completely different story: coffee is their livelihood.
Leo Zambrano and Elizabeth Javier are two examples of farmers whose income depends on coffee. By embarking on coffee training projects, they managed to improve their crops, even at their age.
Their journey to becoming experts in coffee production highlights the importance of passing on the right agricultural knowledge to the current and upcoming generation of farmers. Learn how they use coffee culture as a way to provide and inspire:
From farmer to ambassador
Smiling among the sari-saris and supermarket shelves across the country, Leo Zambrano represents the success that coffee farmers can achieve.
For over 37 years, Leo has turned to agriculture to provide for his family. In 2018, he was chosen as a participant in Project Coffee++, an initiative that aims to increase yields and incomes for 1,500 farmers in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat. In more than three years, the project has already tripled Leo’s profits.
As a Project Coffee++ coffee ambassador, Leo teaches his fellow farmers how to better harvest and grow their produce. “And I am proud to be a Filipino farmer who takes care of Filipino coffee for my fellow Filipinos. (I am proud to be a Filipino farmer who grows Filipino coffee for my fellow Filipinos.)” he said.
A farmer who became an expert in coffee production
As a single mother who tends an integrated farm filled with both coffee and cash crops, Elizabeth is seen as a leader and role model. To further help herself and her community, she explored all of the available programs that help farmers like her.
Elizabeth took courses such as Good Agricultural Practices for Coffee and Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) to expand her own farm and teach others how to do the same.
“I am proud to be a farmer,” said Elizabeth. “My mission is to help my fellow farmers, so I share my knowledge about coffee making. (I’m 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.)”
As a long-standing partner of our local coffee farmers, Nescafé continues to promote sustainable and profitable livelihoods for them. The Nescafé Plan, in cooperation with German development agency GIZ, has created initiatives such as Project Coffee++ to train farmers in various ways. One of the many skills they teach is regenerative agriculture, a farming method that helps farmers take better care of the soil they tend. They also help train them on business and marketing to help them increase their profits.
Leo and Elizabeth are proof that with the right training, coffee farmers can maximize their skills to produce better coffee for the country – enough to increase the Philippines’ coffee self-sufficiency rate from just 27 %, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. 2020 study on the self-sufficiency of our agricultural industry.
However, coffee producers are not getting any younger. The average age of a Filipino coffee farmer is 57, according to a study on the aging generation of farmers. To ensure a strong future for coffee production in the Philippines, investing in the next generation of farmers is essential.
To celebrate this year’s International Coffee Day, Nescafé launched Kape’t Bisig, a campaign whose mission is to provide a P10 million educational assistance fund for the children of Filipino coffee farmers. Social media users can also participate in the initiative by joining the Kape’t Bisig music challenge, with each song and dance shared helping to raise awareness and strengthen the future of coffee culture. To learn more about this project, click here.