Waling-waling lady now promoting cacao as income earner

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 August) — After popularizing the rare Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana), Charita Puentespina is now pushing for another source of income among local farmers: cacao farming.

Puentespina, who first introduced hundreds of Waling-waling seedlings to the public in 1986, is also advocating natural farming method among farmers.

She particularly recognized the potentials of cacao as an alternative source of income among farmers in the highlands.

WALING-WALING LADY Charita Puenstepina is now promoting cacao farming as alternative source of income for farmers. Mindanews Photo by Keith BacongcoEvery year, the Puentespina Farms is producing three tons of dried cacao seeds every hectare. Seventeen hectares of the 30-hectare farm-resort is planted to the crop.

An hectare of coconut plantation can be planted with at least 600 stands of cacao and an open field about 1,000 hills.

Although the technology is relatively different from orchid farming, Puentespina said she gets more satisfaction producing cacao since she is engaging the local farmers.

“The local farmers can relate with cacao farming (than orchid farming). So we are encouraging local farmers to plant cacao between their coconut plantations,” said Puentespina.

She recalled that she learned cacao farming when Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines held a seminar at their resort. “It so happened that they have a seminar here so I just joined them.”

She said that they are now also offering seminars for farmers on cacao farming.

“We are applying natural farming methods to our cacao plantation. We are also using organic fertilizers for the cacao. These are the technologies that we also wanted to share to the farmers,” she added.

Every year, at least 2,000 farmers from different parts of Mindanao come to the resort to learn cacao farming, Puentespina said.

She also bared that most of their dried cacao seeds are bought by consolidators for Marsman Drysdale Group, a diversified Philippine-based synergy of companies with interests in agribusiness and food processing.

“No single plantation in the country can meet the demand of Marsman of at least 26,000 metric tons each year,” she disclosed.

Leo Avila, head of the City Agriculture Office, has earlier said they are promoting cacao farming among farmers particularly in the highlands.

Avila said cacao farming is a potential source among farmers who have vast idle lands.

He also suggested to plantation firms to plant cacao in the highlands should they plan to expand in the mountainous portions of the city. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)