THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said over the weekend it is targeting to improve the average yield of cacao trees in the country to cope with the rising demand for the crop by 2020.
The agency said it is aiming to increase cacao yield by at least 2 kilograms per tree to gear up for the Cacao 2020 Challenge.
Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations and Marketing Emerson U. Palad earlier explained that Cacao 2020 Challenge is the country’s initiative to produce 100,000 metric tons (MT) of cacao beans by 2020.
He said this volume will be used to supply the 10-percent global deficiency in cacao supply, which is at 1 million MT.
DA Davao Region Director Remelyn R. Recoter said the agency recently conducted a series of cacao organizational meetings, consultations and planning workshops with cacao producers in Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental, in line with this.
Recoter said this initiative is a “good start” for the planning and implementation of various interventions and technology adoption that will help the country’s cacao production.
“Through these meetings and consultations with cacao growers, cacao-production interventions will soon start, and there will be continuous technology transfer regarding cacao pest and diseases. Cacao markets will also be opened,” she said in a statement.
Recoter added that the cacao growers from different provinces in the region were formed into cacao-industry councils, which will serve as a channel where they can easily access and interact with their respective local government units.
The cacao-industry councils created were the Davao Sur Cacao Farmers Council with about 75 members and the Integrated Cacao Farmers Council of Davao Occidental with 30 members.
These groups also aim to give awareness to cacao growers of the various technologies and interventions the DA has, which can assist them in boosting their cacao production.
Meanwhile, DA Region 11 High-value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) Coordinator Melani Provido said there will be 500 cacao seedlings to be distributed in areas suitable for cacao and underutilized fruit-tree areas.
“Inputs, such as inorganic fertilizers, will also be distributed to established cacao farms, provided that the recipient cacao farmers will prune their cacao trees. These farms are found at Santa Maria, Davao del Sur and Malita, Davao Occidental, which are operating for at least 10 years,” she added.
The DA in Region 11 also said it is promoting various cacao technologies, such as the recent on-air school for good agricultural practice in cacao production and a cacao-production guide to increase the knowledge of cacao farmers.
Data from the DA-HVCDP showed that 90 percent of total cacao production in the country is from Mindanao, 80 percent of which is from Davao.