PH cacao growers urged to step up production-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
GIVEN the growing global shortage on cacao, the Philippines has an opportunity to grab a bigger share of the cacao world market by increasing crop production, in the process providing a vital source of income for local farmers as well.
Edwin Banquerigo, Department of Trade and Industry's national cacao industry cluster coordinator, in a recent industry briefing, said that the global cacao supply deficit is estimated to reach one million metric tons by 2020.
This has been prompting major buyers, mostly from the United States and countries in Europe, to seek alternative sources elsewhere.
Today, much of cacao production takes place in developing countries. The West African countries of Ivory Coast and Ghana account for more than 60 percent of current annual world supply, said Banquerigo, citing International Cacao Organization statistics.
Government data show that the Philippines currently produces 25,000 metric tons of cacao beans per year.
More than 70 percent of these come from Southern Mindanao, where over 13,000 hectares of land are planted to the crop.
Davao is the top producer, contributing 72 percent to national production. Other cacao-producing areas in the country include Northern Mindanao with 9 percent, the Zamboanga Peninsula with 3 percent, and the Armm and Eastern Visayas regions, each contributing 2 percent.
Banquerigo said the annual cacao export of the Philippines exceeds US$5 million. It was valued at $5.24 million in 2010 and $5.4 million 2011. In the first eight months of 2012, exports totaled $2.53 million.
But the country's cacao import has hit more than $100 million. Importation rose to $88.37 million in 2010 and $102.67 in 2011. Merchandise imports amounted to $49.56 million in January-August 2012, said Banquerigo.
Based on government projections, local cacao farmers have to increase production by at least 45 percent every year and cultivate 150,000 hectares more of cacao land over the years to keep up with the huge demand by 2020.
The Philippines, whose climatic conditions and soil characteristics are conducive to growing cacao, has the potential to be a major world supplier, Banquerigo added.
Unfortunately, cacao production is among the least explored of the high-value crops in the country, recently prompting farmers to call for the creation of a national council that will monitor production toward year 2020.
Banquerigo said industry stakeholders must intensify their collaborative efforts to produce enough supply of dried cacao beans for domestic and global requirements.
Among the strategies the government plans to apply to boost cacao output are the adoption of best practices in farming, expansion of cacao farms, and encouragement of farmers to develop cacao by-products. PhilExport News and Features
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 26, 2013.