The Department of Agriculture (DA) considers cacao as one of the prime commodities of the country for its great potentials in both export and domestic markets. In a consultation held recently in Iloilo City, DA 6 Regional Executive Director Remelyn R. Recoter urged the local farmers to go into cacao production because this particular commodity has various uses from confectioneries to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Western Visayas contributes only one percent of cacao production in the Philippines while Davao region shares 82 percent to the national output in terms of volume and land area planted.
“We are hoping that with the support of all key players, Western Visayas will be a region to reckon with the cacao industry and will increase its contribution to the national cacao output within the next five years,” Recoter urged.
DA aims that by 2020, Region 6 can produce 2,000 metric tons of fermented beans. Furthermore, the agency will strengthen the market linkages and promotion, increase access to quality planting materials, improve farm productivity, enhance value added products, continue research and development activities, and resource mobilization.
The use of quality planting materials will ensure high production of farmers, thus the Bureau of Plant Industry, as an agency under DA, is tasked to spearhead the accreditation of plant nurseries of cacao. The accreditation will also guarantee distribution of quality planting materials of recommended crop varieties of cacao that are true to type and free from pests and diseases.
“There are more than 100 cacao nurseries in Davao but only 20 are accredited by BPI,” said Dir. Recoter.
She also mentioned that the DA 2017 budget was re-casted and the new administration will put more funds for the development of provinces’ priority commodities including cacao.
Esterlita M. Baddong, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Iloilo division chief, shared that the high transportation cost, limited grains supply, limited value adding activities for cacao, low level of consciousness on product quality and standards, price fluctuations, inadequate fermentation facilities, farmers’ lack of knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), inadequate supply of quality seedling materials and high yielding scions, and few accredited nurseries are some of the constraints in the cacao industry.
Other agencies are supporting DA in materializing the 2020 cacao challenge. The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) offers financial and credit services to farmers, cooperatives, associations, and agribusiness entities who intend to put up cacao nursery, plantation, cacao beans processing and manufacturing, trading and export, and other related projects. Farmers can also insure their plantation and nurseries with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.
On the otherhand, Engr. Edwin O. Banquerigo, DTI 11 Assistant Regional Director, presented the National Industry Roadmap for Cacao. He shared that DA-High Value Crops Development Program will distribute 500,310 pieces of cacao seedlings, and targets1,001 hectares of cacao plantation in Region 6 by 2017.
Banquerigo said that although Davao has the capacity to provide planting materials to other provinces, each region should grow cacao as this industry will help the small farmers, create more jobs and alleviate poverty incidence. He also mentioned that two companies based in Davao—the CocoPhil Exporters and Plantacion de Sikwate can accommodate big volumes of cacao produce from Western Visayas.
The consultation was attended by more than 300 farmers and entrepreneurs from the different provinces in Western Visayas. # (SMHToreno/JCVelario)