From right: Mr. Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines, Inc. and Secretary Isidro S Lapeña, Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, sealed the partnership between their respective agencies through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement today, May 19, 2021
Photos courtesy of Strategic Edge PH
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Nestlé Philippines today announced their partnership to upskill workers and trainers in the agriculture sector through the TESDA registered Coffee Production Level II Program and Scholarship. This progressive Robusta coffee production training program provides enterprise-based competency training in coffee farming to aspiring agripreneurs, particularly smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples.
“With this program, we will enable the farmers and our IP coffee growers to produce quality beans that are at par with the standards of Nestle Philippines. We will also be able to help them increase their yields and help them pursue a more sustainable livelihood. This partnership will scale the impact of the work we do in TESDA for the farmers and IPs. We also commit our pool of highly-skilled trainors and TESDA facilities as additional learning sites to ensure that we can accommodate as many farmer-beneficiaries as possible,” said the TESDA chief Secretary Isidro Lapeña.
Through this program, TESDA will train trainers for effective conduct of the curriculum; and provide a scholarship fund under TESDA’s Program on Accelerating Farm School Establishment (PAFSE) so that eligible farmers can enhance their knowledge and skills in planting, maintaining and harvesting coffee. Moreover, enrollees will learn to adopt an entrepreneurial approach in managing small farm operations of one to 10 hectares, and gain the skills to effectively market their coffee beans to buyers such as Nestlé.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to help uplift the lives of Robusta coffee farmers by improving their coffee yields and incomes. Since 1962, Nestlé Philippines has been working alongside farmers to develop the coffee growing industry through a value-chain approach that emphasizes the value of multisectoral collaborations,” said Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines. “Our partnership with TESDA aims to upskill more farmers through meaningful interventions that enable sustainable and profitable coffee production,” he added.
For its pilot phase, the Coffee Production Level II program will be initially offered to farmers located in Bukidnon and Sultan Kudarat where 80 percent of the country’s coffee is grown. TESDA granted a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Certificate to Nestlé’s Bukidnon Integrated Coffee Center (BICC) to serve as the hub for all coffee production training to be conducted for farmer-beneficiaries sponsored by TESDA scholarships. Located in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, the BICC was established in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the National Convergence Initiative and was approved by the Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) as a Learning Site for Coffee Production.
For many years, coffee production in the Philippines has been on the decline, with locally-grown coffee meeting only 19 percent of demand in 2019. Coffee production showed signs of recovery earlier this year, after it posted double-digit growth in Q1. The Coffee Production Level II program, as well as TESDA’s scholarship fund and support aims to accelerate this momentum and foster inclusive growth, particularly among Robusta coffee producers.
TESDA and Nestlé hope to nurture the next generation of coffee farmers in an effort to ensure food sufficiency in coffee. Currently, the average age of Filipino coffee farmers is 57 years old, so the agriculture sector needs to attract a new generation of farmers who can capitalize on the growing demand for coffee and successfully grow profitable coffee farming ventures.
The curriculum of the 176-hour certification program is based on proven competency standards developed by Nestlé with the assistance from TESDA. Course content was derived from Nestlé’s Better Farming Practices for Robusta production, along with modules from the Farmer Business School for Coffee jointly developed by Nestlé and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) for Project Coffee+, an agripreneurship initiative of the NESCAFÉ Plan.
Key elements of the curriculum will focus on teaching farmers modern farming practices that follow sustainability standards and optimize resources to enhance productivity. The program will also provide training in financial and marketing skills to help farmers ensure the profitability of their farms. At the end of the course, smallholder farmers are expected to have the tools and skills to establish better-integrated and sustainable coffee-based farming systems.
Through this joint program, TESDA and Nestlé aim to help spur inclusive growth in the coffee sector and transform coffee farming into a high-yield, high-income industry in the future.