THE industry that used to be an important source of income for small farmers is seen to be making a comeback after years of "dormancy."

The cacao industry is one of the oldest agricultural produce mostly grown in the Davao Region. Its cultivation goes centuries back. Today, cacao growing has declined to a point where the Philippines, in 2008, had to import thousands of tons of cocoa bean equivalents to supply local demand coming from the bakery industry among others.

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This prompted organizers of Davao Trade Expo 2010 to include cacao industry as one of its focus with trainings on cacao farming practices and marketing to be conducted during the expo set on November 5-7, 2010.

Reports also have it that demands for cacao has grown due to the growing consumption of chocolate products globally. Philippine trade reports revealed Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and China as ready markets for cacao.

Realizing the potentials of cocoa powder and cocoa butter as an important ingredient in food products and even in cosmetics, there is a need to enhance the capacities of cacao farmers in Mindanao in producing high-quality beans to meet global market demands competitively.

In the last quarter of 2009, good news came from the Agricultural Cooperative Development International Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (Acdi/Voca) expressing their desire to utilize a $5.4 million fund awarded to them by the United States Department of Agriculture (Usda) to help improve the skills of cacao farmers in effective cacao growing.

Through this initiative, Filipino farmers can equip themselves with necessary skills to learn techniques to control pest and diseases and ultimately produce high quality cacao beans.

News from Acdi/Voca said they will train around 25,000 cacao farmers including those from the Davao Region. The first of a series of trainings starts on September 2010 with a Trainers Training on Cacao Farming Practices and Marketing targeted to farmers' groups and cooperatives and farm technicians.

Join Date 2010's Agri-Con now. Contact (082) 221-7515 through Events Management Officer Herma Joy M. Herrera.