A CACAO industry leader said there is a need to improve the quality of farming inputs in order for growers to produce high-quality cacao and meet the market demand.

During the Wednesday Media Forum on July 6, Cacao Council Chair for Davao Region Toto Muyco said there had been previous attempts in the mass planting of cacao in the region to increase production but it was unsuccessful due to the low quality of planting materials used.

“Ang nangyayari doon, hindi tumutubo ng maayos (The cacao planted during that time did not grow properly). Learning from that lesson, we really have to make sure that the planting materials are of good quality,” Muyco said.

In order to do this, Muyco said seedling producers should guarantee the quality of the cacao seedlings that will be used in farming, as well as strengthen the monitoring and quality control from seedlings until production.

Muyco said this is one of the reasons why the production of cacao in the Davao Region has been plateauing over the past years at approximately 12,000 metric tons - which is 80 percent of the Philippines’ total output of 15,000 metric tons.

“Up to now we are still looking at that level because for one, the exports have not gone up. The local consumption more or less is (just stable). That is why our 12,000 figure before is still the one we have now,” he said.

From a global perspective, five million metric tons are produced around the world but the Philippines contributes only around one percent of the cacao production.

Muyco said once a proper system is established, the Davao Region could double its cacao production.

“I’m very optimistic that in the next five years, we can really double what we have right now,” he said. ICM