THE Davao Regional Cacao Industry Council (DRCIC) targets to produce 40,000 metric tons (MT) per annum of dried fermented cacao beans with a productivity level of two kilograms per tree per year by the end of 2027.

DRCIC chair Dante Muyco said during the Cacao Industry Mindanao Consultative Congress on Thursday, September 22 that this was the council's goal that was discussed in their planning stage.

"It's really a tall order, but we really have to make this work, especially with our partners in the government," Muyco said.

According to the 2020 data from the Department of Agriculture, Davao del Norte has the largest production area with 5,999 hectares (ha), followed by Davao de Oro with 5,550 ha, then next Davao City (4,950 ha), Davao Oriental (1,437 ha), Davao del Sur (915 ha), and Davao Occidental (585 ha).

However, in terms of production volume, Davao City produces the largest volume with 2,508.98 metric tons (MT) or 35 percent share of the entire region, followed by Davao del Norte with 1,435.59 MT, Davao del Sur (1,247.93 MT), Davao Occidental (750.33 MT), Davao de Oro (741.68 MT), and Davao Oriental (573.34 MT).

"It means the more productive products or the more productive trees are located in Davao City," Muyco said.

In addition, he said there were pool farms in 2006 in the city. Also, new technologies in planting were introduced, which helped boost its production.

The official said there is a need for the city to assist its neighboring provinces to also boost their production volume.

Although he said there is a need to review the current production area figure. He hopes there will be an updated figure by next year.

As for cacao and its byproducts that are being exported from the region, dried cacao beans topped the list with 4,844.75 MT, followed by fermented cacao beans with 14.89 MT, and broken cacao cocoa (2.39 MT).

On May 27, 2021 President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act 115471, declaring Davao City as the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines and the entire Davao Region as the Cacao Capital will boost the local cacao industry.

The bill was crafted to recognize "the importance of cacao as a driver of rural development not only because of its singular potential as a raw material that can increase the country’s export earnings tremendously, and put the name of the country on the map for producing the finest chocolate beans but for having provided livelihood to many small farmers in the countryside."

Muyco said the recent declaration should be a stepping game for the region to increase and improve its production, by focusing its effort on research and development, organizational strengthening, productivity, and quality assistance, and human resource development.

He also said there is a need to entice the younger generation to take interest in agriculture. RGL