Government, private sectors focus on propagating cacao crop

June 2, 2015 4:52 am 

DAVAO CITY, June 1 — Known as one of Davao Region's high value crops, both government and private sectors are now focusing on propagating cacao in the different areas of the region.

With the approval of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), government and private sectors identified cacao as pilot commodity for the region while rubber will be for Region 9, saba banana for Region 10, cassava for Region 12, abaca for Region 13 and palm oil for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Developing the different crops by region will be included in the P27.5-billion funding allocation as source funds for a six-year national government platform.

Department of Agriculture (DA)-11 assistant regional director for operations Maria Febe T. Orbe, who is also the focal person for the region on PRDP, said the provisions of infrastructure, facilities and the availability of technology to farmer-beneficiaries are needed in order to raise productivity and competitiveness.

She said one of the components of PRDP is the I-REAP or the Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity or Enterprise Development.

Orbe disclosed there are already several project proposals submitted for cacao production and marketing for Davao del Norte, the fermented cacao beans production and marketing of Davao Oriental and the integrated cacao beans production facility.

She said these proposals are undergoing review.

Orbe said using the value chain analysis approach is looking also at the market aspect.

Citing the Bureau of Agricultural (BAS) records, Orbe said at least 30,000 to 40,000 metric tons are on demand but only 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons have been produced.

She said 75 percent of the production comes from the Davao Region.

She noted there is a marked improvement in the region from last year which posted an 11-percent increase at 5,000 metric tons against the 2013 with only 3,000 metric tons. She targets that by 2020, production could reach 100,000 metric tons.

Orbe said Davao Region can be a trading and consolidation hub for cacao.

The data of DA's High Value Commercial Crops (HVCC) Development Program showed that in the island of Mindanao, about 70 percent of cacao production goes to the export supply chain.

Melanie Provido, coordinator for DA-11 on HVCC Development Program, said that in their data the most traded products from cacao are tablea, chocolate powder and artisanal chocolate.

She said the industry stakeholders here are percent 80 percent traders, 12 percent exporters and five percent integrators.

Provido said with the potential and high demand of the product, the government also focused on improving its production where more than 2 million cacao seedlings were already distributed in the different farm areas by DA as well as the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

She said many of these trees will be in their fruit bearing stage by the end of 2016.

DA, she said, will be distributing another 700,000 seedlings this year to further boost the production of cacao.

According to her, an expansion program is also being developed with some 3,000 hectares to be planted with cacao by next year, adding to the current 6,000 hectares that were already planted with cacao mostly in Compostela Valley Province when some of the banana farm areas were damaged by typhoon Pablo.

Provido said DA-11 has allocated P52 million in support to the cacao expansion program for the region that will cover production and support services, market development services, extension support, education and training services, irrigation network services and equipment and facilities support services.

Davao cacao beans producers have started invading foreign market. Although the country still cannot meet the demand in the world market, other agencies are supporting the industry in order to produce quality beans that would qualify to international standards.

Provido said they want small cacao farmer producers to follow good agricultural practices and are encouraged to add value to their beans in order to penetrate foreign markets where cacao products of the country are also exported to Malaysia and Thailand.

There are those already exporting their products like the Chocolate de San Isidro to Netherlands and other European countries while Malagos Chocolate of Puentespina Family, aside from supplying the foreign chocolate producer like the Mars Chocolate, also earned international awards for its cacao products.

Malagos Chocolate was given international recognition by the London Academy of Chocolate in the Best Unflavored Drinking Chocolate category last April.

Charita Puentespina, its owner, said the farmers will now have a market for their product which will encourage them to plant more. (PNA)



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