DAVAO CITY — The provincial government of Davao Oriental is pushing to become the country’s top cacao producer within the next two years and is promoting the crop in typhoon Pablo-devastated agricultural areas.
In her inaugural address, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon said the provincial government has partnered with the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. to set up a cacao enterprise village. She noted that the group has already started the groundwork on the development of areas where the crop would be planted.
Ms. Malanyaon said the industry shows a lot of potential and that it is “envisioned that within the next year or two, Davao Oriental will become the leading cacao producer in the country.”
The Mindanao cacao association last year reported that 20,000 hectares of farms are producing cacao in the Davao Region alone. The latest national cacao situationer from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics was released in 2004, when the average area planted nationwide from 1999 to 2003 was only 12,292 hectares.
Valente D. Turtur, executive officer of the association, said that Davao Oriental — source of an estimated 80% of the country’s cacao output — can boost its production not only by increasing the hectarage but by improving farm productivity as well.
Based on data from the Agriculture department, cacao productivity in the country is about two kilograms per hectare, lower by a kilogram compared with the international production average.
Mr. Turtur said the industry must enhance its productivity so it can slowly address the local demand of 55,000 metric tons (MT) a year. He noted that local growers are targeting about 100,000 MT produced by 2020.
“While agriculture is one of the most damaged sectors by Pablo, we are confident we can overcome the stumbling block with more aggressive efforts,” Ms. Malanyaon said in her inaugural address.
The province lost about six million coconut trees when strong winds destroyed crops in the Davao Oriental towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston. Aside from cacao, the provincial government is also promoting oil palm in farming areas destroyed by Pablo. — Carmelito Q. Francisco