A HECTARE of fully-grown cacao can send one’s children through college, said a plantation owner who conducts trainings in Cebu on how to achieve a profitable investment from this premium tree.
If protocols on cacao farming are followed, a hectare of 1,000 fully grown cacao trees yields P450,000 in gross income annually, or three metric tons of seeds valued at P150 per kilo, said Grover Rosit.
If dried, roasted and formed into chocolate tablets or tablea, it will go higher at P3.50 per kilo.
Rosit Cacao Farms had a display stall at the Capitol Agriculture Fair for a week.
Rosit, a retired postman from Davao, with his former 3.75-ha. cacao plantation, was able to send his six children to college, and they are all professionals: a political science graduate, a teacher, a commerce graduate, a medicine graduate, a computer course graduate and another teacher.
Rosit trains farmers every last Sunday of the month in his farm in Minglanilla, Cebu.
Rosit said a grafted cacao tree will bear fruit after 18 to 24 months and will be in “full fruiting” mode after five years for 25 years, said Gary Hontiveros, Rosit’s partner here in Cebu.
“A cacao is forever, and it can be transferred from generation to generation,” said Rosit.
After 25 years, one may cut the mature tree, and its stump, shoots or scion may be used to bear fruit after a year.
Rosit said world demand for this tropical fruit is increasing and only nine countries including the Philippines are producing this.
“Market demand for cacao is increasing, but the area of cacao plantation wala modako (didn’t expand),” Rosit said.
This attracted more buyers from abroad, closing deals with farmers and farmers’ cooperatives in the planting stage of cacao to ensure steady supply.
As early as 2013, Kennemer Foods International Inc. (KFII) expanded its contract-farming operations in Leyte and Bohol.
Now, the company has dealings with the Province of Cebu, its farmers and major cooperatives here.
KFII supplies cacao to giant chocolate companies like Mars Inc., the makers of Snickers, M&M and Mars Bars.
Rosit was with the Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) as a postman for 25 years. His wife, Patricia, was a public school teacher, but their meager income could not sustain their daily needs and the schooling of their six children.
Rosit then eyed an alternative source of income, planting cacao in his backyard in 1996.
He said cacao is considered a high-value crop with more consumers than coffee. Coffee is consumed by adults, while the chocolate from cacao is consumed by all ages.
After 12 years, his backyard business bore encouraging returns, so he ventured a plantation in the 3.75-ha. Lot of his wife.
Three years later, in 2011, Rosit decided to retire early.
“Maulaw na ako adto kay tag-as na ang akong mga leave (I then felt uncomfortable having long leaves), (as) I am already devoting more time in my plantation,” he said.
His once “alternative source of income” already far outweighs his meager salary in PhilPost. He went full-time after he permanently left PhilPost and introduced a high-yield variety UF-18 cacao in his plantation.
His plantation increased to 12 has., expanding business and earning millions.
Rosit now sells different cacao products—from cacao seeds, he also supply scions to cacao nibs, roasted cacao and tableya.
Rosit also provides services such as farm assessment, farm estimate and consultancy. He also provides technical assistance from planting to fruit cacao-bearing trees.