DA teams up with Davao for cacao production

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 February) — The Department of Agriculture will partner with the city government for its highland cacao farming projects in response to a rising interest in the crop, an official of the DA revealed last Tuesday.

Speaking in Tuesday’s privilege hour at the city council’s regular session, DA Regional Executive Director Remelyn Recoter said the agency would work with the city in providing facilities, post-harvest and processing equipment, research and development, and pest and disease eradication measures for high-value crops.

Recoter said the DA has already turned over similar assistance to the Subasta Multipurpose Cooperative, which received a processing plant and other post-harvest facilities not only for cacao but also for other high value crops.

She said the city’s cacao industry could access funding and other kinds of assistance from the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) such as strategic agricultural infrastructure, research and development, and training.

“The objective is to respond to the constraints that low-income rural farmers face as they practice cacao farming,” she said.

She added the PRDP is an inclusive program catering to agriculture and fisheries, and targets marginal and sustenance farmers.

“The cacao industry has a high accessibility to the program,” Recoter said.

She said the City Agriculture Office (CAO) has already attended a value chain analysis seminar given by the DA last week, where they learned to analyze constraints to the city’s cacao industry.

Councilor Marissa Salvador Abella, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, said they are pushing for the creation of satellite agricultural areas in Paquibato and Marilog districts, and the promotion of cacao production.

Abella said the decrease in the production by Western African countries of cacao beans and the production of “proudly Davao” askinosi chocolates presents an opportunity for Davao farmers to make it in the industry.

Davao City is second to Davao del Norte in cacao production, the councilor said during the privilege hour.

She added a shortfall is expected to reach one million metric tons by 2020 because of lower production in Western Africa.

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said two weeks ago he would order the CAO to provide facilities and trainings to cacao farmers in the upland areas.

Last week, CAO head Roselio Tabay said the office will expand the city’s cacao’s production area from 2,800 hectares to 10,000 hectares, but would need P10,000 per hectare for the project.

During the same privilege hour, Recoter said the DA has approved P170 million in farm-to-market road expansions for the city.

The expansions are part of the DA’s approved P251.9-million budget for the city.

She, however, said the DA would only shoulder 90% of the budget, and the city government the remaining 10%.

The expansions cover 16.96 kilometers of road concreting in Matina Pangi, Catalunan Grande, Mintal, Baliok, Catalunan Pequeño, Maa, Langub, and Bago Gallera in the first district.

The project also includes barangays Inayangan in Calinan and Lumiad in Paquibato for the second district, and Riverside, Panipasan, Marilog Proper, Magsaysay and Marahan in the third district.

The third district would get P70 million of the P170-million budget.

Recoter said farm-to-market roads are now required to be made of concrete instead of gravel to make them resilient to climate.

The official said that aside from the farm-to-market road development program, road networks will also be enhanced through the Davao Integrated Development Program, consisting of a road expansion in Paquibato worth P6 million.

The Paquibato project involves the concreting and rehabilitation of a road in Sitio Palangag, Barangay Lumiad. (MindaNews)