October to November marks the coffee harvest season, when coffee cherries reach the ideal stage for picking, particularly for coffee growers in Mindanao where majority of the country’s Robusta supply is produced. As the country’s biggest buyer of green coffee beans, Nestlé hopes to continuously grow its volume purchase of green coffee beans in the Philippines. Nestlé’s objective is to use as much locally-sourced coffee as possible in the production of NESCAFÉ, to ensure that it delivers Kapeng Pilipino Para Sa Pilipino.
However, locally-grown coffee will be harder to source if production continues to dramatically decline. There are many causes to the low production, but inefficient land use and degraded soil stemming from conventional farming practices and the impact of climate change are major concerns. Nestlé seeks to address the impact of outdated traditional farming methods by introducing common regenerative agriculture principles to smallholder farmers.
Regenerative agriculture is a method of farming that aims to reverse the effects of climate change by improving soil fertility and restoring degraded soil biodiversity. Not only does it result in systemic crop health, but regenerative agriculture also reduces carbon emissions and improves water systems to create an ecosystem where a wider variety of plant and animal life can thrive. Most importantly, regenerative agriculture minimizes the impact of food production to ensure that humans can continue to harvest the food needed for nourishment for many years to come.
Through the NESCAFÉ Plan, Nestlé works closely with farming communities, national and local government, social development agencies, and other agriculture partners to promote a comprehensive regenerative agriculture model that protects the three key resources of any agricultural system: soil, water, and biodiversity.
But more than just fostering the economic viability of coffee farming, the NESCAFÉ Plan also wants to enjoin famers in crossing the threshold from sustainability to regeneration. To this end, the NESCAFÉ Plan has been imparting Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in coffee production to farmers, and introducing them to regenerative farming principles that will help make coffee-growing more sustainable. This is a crucial step in achieving resiliency against the threat of climate change.
The rising temperatures, extreme weather conditions, erosion, and other effects of climate change are slowly but surely affecting Filipino farming communities, and putting food security at risk. Action must be taken now to help farmers future-proof their farms, and secure our food supply for generations to come.
This is the reason behind the recent launch of Nescafé Plan 2030, an extensive strategy to accelerate coffee farmers’ adoption of regenerative agriculture. Nestlé will invest over one billion Swiss francs by 2030 to provide farmers with training, technical assistance and high-yielding coffee plantlets to help them transition to regenerative coffee farming practices, particularly these key principles:
Planting cover crops helps to protect the soil. It also helps add biomass to the soil, which can increase soil organic matter and thus soil carbon sequestration. A good example of cover crops is peanut grass (Arachis pintoi), which is an ideal option because of its efficiency in nitrogen fixation.
Using compost reduces farm waste and contributes to soil fertility, which is essential for good soil health. Compost can be made by mixing organic matter such as grass cuttings, leaves or stems, and letting them decompose into a form of soil a pile or container. To accelerate the decomposition, earthworms such as African Night Crawlers, can be added to quickly convert organic farm waste materials into compost. This is called vermicomposting.
Agroforestry is the practice of planting large shade trees around the farm to act as a natural barrier that protects the farm from wind and rain, and helps preserve biodiversity. Falcata, Ipil-ipil and Fruit Trees such as Langka and Avocado are the commonly used trees in farms in the Philippines.
Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously, and is good way for farmers to diversify their income. It maximizes the use of the land and resources, and increases the health of the soil while contributing to climate resilience. Some examples of vegetables that are used in intercropping include eggplant, chayote and pepper, banana (Lakatan or Saba) and peanut.
The NESCAFÉ Plan is one of the longest-running and most successful public-private partnerships in the coffee industry. Since 2018, 1,500 coffee farmers have been introduced to these four Regenerative Agriculture practices.
Today, majority of NESCAFÉ Plan coffee farms have structured intercropping planting systems. Farmers’ livelihoods have also improved, thanks to putting these regenerative principles into practice.
Regenerative agriculture also contributes to drawing down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Nestlé has always known that sustainability was just the first step in our Net Zero journey. This is an exciting time in our shared journey beyond sustainability and towards regenerative agriculture, one that will look at renewing the world of coffee to uplift lives and livelihoods with every cup.
Nestlé encourages all coffee enthusiasts to join us in supporting coffee farmers to become productive, profitable and resilient.