DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 Feb) – This city is pushing for more production of cacao, coffee and rubber, allocating thousands of hectares for these agricultural produce because of market opportunity.
City agriculture officer Leonardo Avila III said cacao needed the biggest land area, and the city intends to aggregate at least 1,000 hectares per year to satisfy the huge market demand of CocoaPhil Foundation, its partner in developing the supply from here.
CocoaPhil, which processes the crop into fermented cocoa, offered to buy local production of cacao.
Cacao development would also need to train farmers on nursery development, planting and grafting, and fermentation as well to fetch a higher price, Avila said.
Cacao production was mainly done in Talandang, Calinan district, more than 50 kilometers northwest of downtown.
Avila said they are also searching for additional areas for coffee.
“We would plant the arabica variety in the very high upland areas, and robusta in the lowlands,” he said. Avila added that the target set by both his office and the Department of Agriculture regional office was 500 hectares every year.
For rubber, the city would also consolidate 1,000 hectares within two years, the minimum requirement of prospective investors in a processing plant.
Rubber was included after the Board of Investments inquired with Avila’s office if the city has or if it could generate the minimum hectarage.
For the three crops, Avila said that the areas could be tapped jointly in a multicropping venture. “We plant rubber, for instance, and intercrop it with cacao,” he added.
The city would also tap the small farmers in the venture to improve their income.
The three priority crops would be integrated into the entire Agriculture Development Plan, which involves development of an industry on high value crops, that includes also durian, mango and coconut, Avila said.
The agro-forestry component would also develop a protected and reforestation program of five watershed areas with fruit trees to improve the income of farmers “and prevent them from cutting the trees they planted”.
“When you plant only the hardwood, forest residents would be tempted to cut them down later if you do not offer them sources of livelihood,” he said. “With fruit trees, they would tend to look forward to its fruiting season,” he noted.
The five watershed areas are in Sibulan, Talomo, Lipadas, and along Lasang River and Davao River. (MindaNews)