Foreign buyers to join first nationwide cacao conference

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 25 August)—Foreign buyers will join the first nationwide conference and exhibition of the country’s cacao industry dubbed KakaoKonek on November 21-23 here, conference director Lizabel Holganza said.

The foreign buyers would come from the United States, Netherlands, China, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Turkey and Belgium, she said.

At the conference, the biggest food manufacturers locally and abroad will connect and create a network with different organizations, as major chocolate companies are aiming the Philippines to be a major supplier of cacao beans, Holganza said.

Some 300 participants, including farmers, industry experts, nursery operators, plant breeders, traders, manufacturers, and service suppliers, are expected to attend the event.

The convenors of KakaoKonek are the Cocoa Industry Development Association in Mindanao, Inc. (Cidami), Agricultural Cooperative Development International, and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance under its Sustainable Food and Income from Cacao, Coconut and Palay (Cocopal) program.

Emmanuel Quisol, agriculture enterprise development coordinator of Cocopal, said this pioneering event is in line with the industry’s challenge to supply 100,000 metric tons of cacao beans to the world market by 2020.

He said the country’s annual cacao production reached only 6,000 MT, of which 60 percent are exported mainly to the USA and the Netherlands.

The country has an annual supply deficit of 29,000 MT and we are importing cacao beans from Africa and Indonesia, the world’s largest cacao producers at 600,000 MT yearly, to fill the gap, Quisol said.

Alfredo Corpuz, vice president of Cidami, an organization of cocoa value chain players, said Mindanao produces 90 percent of the total cocoa production in the country, with Davao City and Davao del Sur among the biggest producers.

Cocoa is the processed product of cacao beans.

He said about 7,000 hectares of coconut trees are now being utilized for the inter-planting of cacao, adding that it will not eventually replace subsistence farming such as rice, corn and vegetables.

Corpuz, one of the biggest cacao nursery operators here, said cacao is an ideal crop for small farm holders and multi-cropping because it grows under the shades of other trees.

“That is why we encourage farmers to practice inter-cropping of cacao because it can augment their income,” he said.

Corpuz stressed that a properly planted cacao tree can yield at least two kilos of dried beans, which cost P100 per kilo in the local market.  (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)