City agriculturist eyes to make city largest cacao producer

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Monday, January 9, 2012


THE City Agriculturist Office (CAO) chief Leonardo Avila III is seeking to make Davao City the largest cacao bean producer in the country.

“We have seen the resurgence of the cacao industry and we want to seize its market potential,” Avila said on Monday.

Avila said private institutions like Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines (CocoaPhil) and ACDI/VOCA will be assisting CAO and the local farmers in enhancing or improving the technology of the cacao produced in the city through their Cocopal program.

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The Cocopal program, which derives its name from cocoa, coconut and the palayamanan farming method, will improve post-harvest processing facilities and practices.

Avila also said there are still 23,000 hectares of potential land area for cacao to be planted in the city and that they need to plant one to two million seedlings a year to be able to export cacao worldwide.

He said they will be looking into financial support agreements with the Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council.

“We do not only want to produce high quality fermented cocoa beans but we also want to be the ones who will process cocoa butter and powder for even higher value,” Avila said.

Davao is the one of the producers of the cocoa used in manufacturing Askinosie Chocolate -- a small batch bean to bar chocolate manufacturer located in Springfield, Missouri, sourcing 100 percent of their beans directly from the farmers in Ecuador, Tanzania, Honduras and the Philippines.

Shawn Askinosie, the founder and chocolate maker, travels to these cocoa producing countries and personally hands out 10 percent share of the chocolates they have produced that was made from the beans grown on their farms.

“We will not be giving out seedlings for free we will be providing them (farmers) with a subsidized cost and train them with the help of CocoaPhil and ACDI/VOCA to produce high quality cocoa for exports,” Avila said.

He said the Central Nursery of CAO has 80,000 planting materials that can be used and that ACDI/VOCA has 200,000 seedlings available as well.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 10, 2012.

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