Starting a Coffee Plantation in the Philippines: Tips and Considerations

How to start a coffee plantation in the Philippines

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Thinking of starting your own coffee plantation in the Philippines? This article is for you.

Owning a coffee plantation is no easy task. With the ever-present risk of diseases and pests, unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change, and the current economic crisis due to COVID-19, there’s a lot to consider. So, it’s important to prepare as much as you can. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about starting a coffee plantation in the Philippines. 

Coffee Plantation: Economic Importance

Coffee is an important commodity and is a highly popular beverage around the world. Generally, small producers in developing countries make their living growing and producing coffee. The total consumption of coffee is over 2.25 billion cups in the world every day! In the Philippines, the total coffee consumption was about 3.4 million 60kg. bags.

Approximately 90% of coffee production occurs in developing countries; however, maximum consumption mainly occurs in industrialized economies. Coffee is one of the major agricultural export commodity around the world. Currently, the coffee industry has a commodity chain that involves producers, roasters, importers, middlemen exporters, and retailers before reaching consumers. According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), about 25 million families rely on growing and selling coffee beans, most of which are small-scale farmers. Apart from the retail market, coffee shops are major consumers of coffee. 

Starting a Coffee Plantation: Tips and Considerations

Starting a coffee plantation may seem daunting and overwhelming at first, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can succeed. You will need to work on your business plan. You should know the growth requirements of coffee and the things you need in the coffee plantation. Conduct a market study to know your competition. There are established coffee bean companies out there – can you compete with them? 

If you’re thinking about starting your own coffee plantation in the Philippines, here are some tips and considerations you should keep in mind. 

  1. Choosing a Site and Preparing the Plantation
    If a coffee tree is to grow well, it needs – more than anything – a deep, permeable soil that has good structure.

    Choosing and Clearing the Site 
    • The soil must have good structure so that the roots can penetrate well.
    • The soil must be deep, so that the roots can go down deep.
    • The land should be cleared. Remove weeds and unnecessary trees that can’t be used as shade.
    • Newly opened area for planting should be intensively cleaned.
    • Never plant coffee trees in soil which has a hard layer. If you do, make sure to break up the hard layer.

      Holing/Hole Preparation
    • To provide a good room for root development, the hole should be dug at least 60cm x 60cm.
    • The holes should be backfilled with top soil. Then, add compost.
    • Ideally, the holes should be left for two months before planting – this allows nutrients to be available for the new tree.

  1. Coffee Variety
    You can find a lot of good coffee varieties throughout the world. However, you must choose the variety that suits the agroclimactic condition of your area. Here, we have listed down 4 of the most popular coffee varieties grown in the Philippines. 

    • Arabica.
      Arabica is considered the best quality coffee because of its excellent aroma and flavor. The shrub of this variety is smaller than Robusta and Liberica, and its leaves are fragrant and creamy in color. Berries are oblong-ellipsoid in shape, and are green in color – which later turns yellow or red when ripe. The size of its seeds range from 8.5 to 12.7 cm long. Arabica is an early bearer – two years after transplanting, it produces berries. Typically, a well-managed and full grown one-hectare farm can yield about 1,000kg of green beans. However, this variety is vulnerable to coffee rust. 

    • Robusta.
      Robusta plant produces berries around four years after transplanting. A well-tended one-hectare field can yield around 1,200 kg per year of green coffee beans. Robusta is known for its umbrella-shaped growth; its leaves are thinner than Excelsa and the edge is scalloped. Its flowers are also white with 5 to 6 petals. The berries are smaller than Arabica, closely clustered and blood red when ripe with thin parchment and pulp. 

    • Liberica.
      Also known as
      kapeng barako, Liberica produces the biggest berry among commercial groups. It is noted for its very strong taste and color. Its leaves are twice as long as Arabica and thicker than Excelsa and leathery in texture. Berries are round, borne singly or in small clusters with firm and thick pulp. Liberica is a drought-tolerant variety that bears seeds around 4 to 5 years from transplanting. A well-tended one-hectare farm can yield around 1,000 kg per year. 

    • Excelsa.
      This variety is similar to Liberica, except for its thinner, more rounded, and smoother leaves. Flowers are white and large with 4 to 6 petals. The berries are ovoid and are a little compressed with a flat form. They are borne in heavy cluster and are usually bigger than Arabica, however, it is smaller than Liberica. Like Liberica, its bearing age is 4 to 5 years after transplanting. A well-tended one-hectare farm can yield around 1,000 kg per year. 

  2. Field Layouting
    Depending on the coffee variety you choose, the layout of the field should be prepared using the recommended planting distances. 
    • For Arabica. Planting distances should be about 2m x 2m (monocropping). If it will be intercropped, distance should be 2m x 3m or 2m by 5m.
    • For Robusta. Planting distances should be 2m x 3m (monocropping). If it will be intercropped, distance should be 3m x 3m.

    • For Libera and Excelsa. Planting distances should be 3m x 4m (monocropping). If it will be intercropped, distance should be 4m x 4m.
  1. Transplanting of Seedlings
    When you are ready to transplant the coffee bean seedlings, here are some factors you should consider.
    • Plant coffee seedlings during cloudy days, particularly in June through August, during the wet season. Avoid planting seedlings when the conditions are hot, dry, or wind – or during the hottest time of the day. 
    • Before planting, the seedlings should be completely watered in the bags. 
    • The plastic bag must be removed when planting
    • The seedlings should be placed upright in the hole – don’t plant at an angle. 

The Bottom Line

Starting a coffee plantation may seem daunting and overwhelming at first, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can succeed. Hopefully, this article was able to give you some insight about starting a coffee plantation in the Philippines. Good luck!

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