Creation of National Cacao Council pushed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 July) – The Cacao Industry Development Authority of Mindanao Inc. (Cidami) is pushing for the creation of a National Cacao Council that will oversee the growth of the industry.

Cidami executive vice president Valente Turtur, speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao, said the industry lacks a representation in the government that will propel its development amid surging local and global demands.

Turtur said the proposed council will monitor government programs that are aimed at improving the livelihood of the people by way of planting cacao seedlings.

He noted government agencies like the Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Agriculture are doing their initiatives on their own.

“We need a government body that will be institutionalized to oversee cacao industry, from production to export, and to maintain the quality,” he said.

The Philippines has a shortage of around 40,000 metric tons (MT) of cacao, which have to be sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Despite the shortfall the country has been exporting around 2,500 MT a year out of the 12,500 MT total annual production.

Around 70 percent of the country’s cacao supply comes from Davao Region, which has 21,000 hectares planted to the crop.

Davao City has 6,200 hectares planted to cacao, while Davao del Norte has 5,900 hectares.

The creation of a cacao council will be one of the highlights of the upcoming National Cacao Congress, slated on September 11 to 13, 2014, at the SMX Convention Center Davao where around 500 farmers will be expected to participate.

Different industry speakers and government officials will grace the three-day congress, including Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate food and agriculture committee, DTI secretary Gregory Domingo, and DA secretary Proceso Alcala.

Dr. Romulo Cena, of Ingenic Team Asia, will talk on the “Significance of Clonal Selection and Different Cacao Clones in the Philippines” while Pedro Cruz, of Cacao Guro, will share his expertise on “Crops Establishment and Plant Nutrition” (vegetative and productive stage).

Cidami and some other government agencies are planning to increase the number of trees planted from 1 million to 2 million by 2020 in order to produce some 200,000 MT of dried cacao beans through the Mindanao Development Authority’s “Double Up” program.

This after more multinational companies showed interest to source quality cacao beans from the Philippines.

The world’s leading candy maker alone earlier challenged the Philippines to produce some 100,000 MT of dried cacao beans by 2020.

During the three-day congress, five other companies will join in the business matching with the local farmers. These are Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Dole-Itochu, WL Foods, and Filipinas Oro de Cacao.

Turtur projected that global shortage for cacao by 2020 will reach 1 million MT.

He is hoping the Philippines could fill in 10 percent of the global shortfall. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)