Duterte urges farmers to plant cacao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 Feb) — Farmers should take advantage of the shortage in cacao supply in the country and the world by planting the crop, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said.

In his Sunday television show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” (From the masses, for the masses), Duterte ordered the City Agriculturist’s Office to go to the field and train farmers on cacao planting and handling.

“I will tell them (CAO) to go out to you and give advice,” he said.

“There is a shortage. Take advantage of this hiatus. Go plant,” Duterte said, adding small growers can cash in on this development and  “you might hit the jackpot.”

Duterte said his order to the agriculturist’s office would include organizing lectures on how to grow and handle cacao, including intercropping techniques so that farmers can grow the crops under coconut trees or with other existing crops with different harvest periods.

Councilor Marissa Salvador-Abella, chair of the City Council’s Agriculture Committee, told reporters here last week that her committee will be proposing the creation of an Upland Management Board that will oversee the creation of training centers in areas such as Paquibato and Marilog.

These centers would give hands-on training for farmers to learn new technology in farming, as well as agro-forestry techniques.

She said the project would also help farmers practice integrated farming techniques, with facilities such as demonstration farms, nurseries, as well as other facilities where best practices may be taught to farmers.

Abella said she plans to ask the city government to purchase a seven-hectare area in Marilog for this.

Abella said the market for cacao has been untapped. She said the city should capitalize on the city’s available farmlands and other facilities to increase the supply.

“There are hectares and hectares in these areas that need planting, and we can use that to help farmers,” she said.

She said the proposal also aims to address environmental issues, as there are areas in Marilog and Paquibato that need reforestation.

Abella said the committee is seeing a “drought” in the city within 20 years if the local government does not help support farmers in these areas.

A study presented last year at the International Conference on Agribusiness Economics and Management at the Marco Polo Hotel said the farmgate price of dry cacao beans had shot up significantly from P60 per kilo in 2011 to P90 per kilo as of 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization Statistics in 2013 showed that the demand for cacao in the Philippines was 5,000 tons as of 2011. (MindaNews)