THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is pushing for the production and management of cacao in the Province of Ifugao.

Genna Jalliorina, DOST Provincial Science and Technology Center(PSTC) Ifugao Director, explained in 2014, DOST assisted the Hinluyot Sirrib organization of Hulungan, Kiangan who were into arabica coffee production and then shifted to cacao production in 2015 until 2019.

The project is under the Consultancy Agriculture Productivity Enhancement (CAPE) program, aimed to help farmer-beneficiaries in Ifugao to improve the production of cacao products.

“For the cacao production, we have already assisted 41 farmers in the municipalities of Lamut, Kiangan, and Lagawe. The estimated number of hectares that have been planted with cacao is around 42 while the estimated number trees as of today is 21,000,” Jallorina said.

The agriculture consultancy enhancement program service implemented by DOST seeks to teach effective farm management strategies to improve agricultural productivity and maximize the use of the farms.

“Although at present we still have a minimal number of production since the start of the cacao planting in 2015 which would take 28 months for a tree to produce. For a farmer, what is required is at least one hectare to apply under CAPE so for those under 1 hectare, what we are doing is to cluster them with another farmer having less than 1 hectare to come up with the required hectarage,” Jalliorina stated.

Edna Norial, one of the farmer-beneficiary of CAPE said from two trees, they now manage 5,000 cacao trees with additional 100 trees recently planted.

“One of the challenges is the growing stage of cacao because we have not used other fertilizers since it is grown organically. Although we were affected by the health pandemic wherein we stopped production for at least three months, our resumption showed additional buyers of our cacao products,” Norial said.