National council for cacao sought

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013


FARMERS are seeking to form a national council that will monitor the development of cacao production in the country toward year 2020, an official said on Wednesday.

The cacao farmers in the Philippines have committed to produce at least 100,000 metric tons of cacao to meet the global requirement by year 2020.

Speaking in Wednesday’s Club 888 Forum at Marco Polo Hotel Davao, Engr. Edwin Banquerigo, provincial director of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Davao Region, said the discussion on forming the National Cacao Industry Development Council (NCIDC) was part of the action plan created during the National Cacao Investment Convergence on June 13 to 14 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao.

He said a collaborative effort among the industry stakeholders must be achieved so that the country will be able to produce its own sufficient supply of dried cacao beans for domestic and global requirement.

"We need a structural mechanism to enhance collaboration -- collaboration even among the competing firms," he said of the NCIDC.

At present, the Philippine cacao production averages 25,000 metric tons, of which more than 70 percent is coming from Davao Region.

He said the global demand for dried cacao beans is at five million metric tons and that local cacao farmers must attain at least 45 percent increase in production year on year in order to keep pace with the huge demand by 2020.

Among the top producing areas of cacao are Ivory and Ghana in Africa, which supply almost 60 percent of the global requirement, and Indonesia.

He said the average annual cacao export of the Philippines is at $6 million. However, the country's cacao import is recorded at $110 million.

Banquerigo added that among the strategies they hope to implement to attain the 2020 goal are to increase the production level through adopting best practices in farming, expansion of cacao farms, and encourage farmers to develop cacao by-products.

"The development of cacao must be market driven," he said.

He said there are government and private agencies who are interested in helping increase the production. Some of them are Department of Agriculture, Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Science and Technology, and DTI.

Lizabel Holganza, who is part of the board of Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc., said they are also hoping to replicate the best practices of Indonesia cacao farmers in the country.

"A 35-year-old cacao tree can still be rehabilitated through side grafting," she said, adding that considering the best practices of other countries in farming may do great help to improve production of cacao.

Indonesia has 1.6 million hectares of land planted with cacao, with each hectare can produce three tons a year.

In the Philippines, farmer's production of cacao per hectare is at 500 to 600 kilos a year, Banquerigo said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 20, 2013.

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