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PH gears up for 2020 Cacao Challenge

From just one division in the Department of Agriculture (DA), cacao industry has transformed into an agency-wide initiative. Then Local Government Units (LGUs) got interested and showed some support too. Now, other agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are doing their share for the 2020 Cacao Challenge.

In fact, DTI is the lead agency in the crafting of 2020 Cacao Challenge, a national roadmap for the cacao sector where the country targets to start producing 100,000 metric tons of fermented beans annually starting 2020.Untitled-1

The 2020 Cacao Challenge plans to grow the production areas and productivity in the Philippines, targeting to have 58 million cacao trees and as many as 130,000 farmers.

In a report, DTI National Cacao Industry Cluster coordinator Edwin Banquiero was quoted as saying that the Philippines and other growing cacao regions can help in addressing the global shortfall for this commodity.

Banquiero said the agency has been slowly implementing the road map since 2013.

As of now, DTI is supporting the “revitalization” of the local cacao industry as supply gap continues to exist due to changing weather conditions, pest and diseases, and ultimately, low productivity.

The government goal is to increase cacao yield in the country by boosting production in the Mindanao region, which contributes about 90 percent of the country’s total production of cacao beans.

The DA Region 11 is targeting to increase cacao yield by at least two kilograms per tree to address the increasing demand for cacao beans.

In line with this, DA conducted a series of cacao organizational meetings, consultations and planning workshops in Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental to gear up for the 2020 Cacao challenge.

The forecast is that by 2020, there will be a 1 million metric ton (MT) shortage of cacao globally, with global demand expected to reach between 4.7 million to 5 million

By 2020, the cacao program has targeted 50,000 hectares in the country to be planted with good cacao quality and variety.

To take advantage of this expected demand, the Philippines, which used to be one of the world’s largest exporter of cacao, is now intensifying efforts to grow its supply for this particular commodity.

DA regional director Remelyn Recoter said the meetings and workshops that are being done now are a good start for interventions and technologies regarding cacao production being planned for budget purposes.

“Cacao growers from the region’s provinces were formed into cacao Industry councils in order to formalize an avenue where they can easily access and interact with their respective local government units,” the DA said.

The cacao industry councils created were the Davao Sur Cacao Farmers Council (DCFC) with about 75 members and the Integrated CacaoFarmers Council of Davao Occidental (ICFDO) with 30 members.

“Through these meetings and consultations with cacao growers, cacao production interventions will soon start and there will be continuous technology transfer regarding cacao pest and diseases. Cacao markets will also be opened,” she added.

Meanwhile, Melani Provido, DA XI High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) coordinator said there will be 500 cacao seedlings to be distributed to cacao suitable areas or underutilized coconut and/or fruit tree areas.

“Inputs such as inorganic fertilizers will also be distributed to established cacao farms, provided that the recipient cacao farmers will prune their cacao trees. These farms are found at Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur, and Malita, Davao Occidental which are operating for at least 10 years,” she added.

The cacao councils enable cacao growers to be aware of the various technologies and interventions regarding cacao production.

Along with this, DA Region 11 is promoting various cacao technologies such as the recent on-air school on good agricultural practices in cacao production and a cacao production guide to increase cacao farmers’ knowledge.

According to a research under the World Bank-backed Philippine Rural Development Program, the Philippines, particularly the island of Mindanao, is among the countries in Asia seen to have a competitive advantage for cacao production given its strategic location, climatic conditions, and soil characteristics.

“This is borne by the increasing presence of integrators of major global players in Davao Region and in emerging cocoa producing regions in Mindanao,” it added.