Davao Region’s cacao industry lags behind global demand for chocolates

Drying cacao beans in Tugbok District, Davao city. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 July) – Cacao production in the Davao Region has stagnated despite massive efforts to revitalize the industry amid the growing global demand for chocolates.
Dante Muyco, chair of Davao Region Cacao Council, said during “Wednesdays Media Forum” at Habi at Kape in Abreeza Corporate Center that the region’s annual estimated production level remains at 12,000 metric tons after years of attempts to double the yield.
He said the region fell short of hitting its target due to various factors, including poor planting materials and failure to put in place a good monitoring system.
“There have been massive plantings done in the past and the only problem was that the planting materials sometimes are not of good quality such that hindi tumutubo ng maayos (not growing properly). Learning from that lesson, we really have to make sure that our planting materials are really of good quality,” he said.
Good practices in the propagation of cacao seedlings must also be employed, he added.
“This means, when we do more expansions, we have to make sure that the system of monitoring is also done. The system of quality control from seedlings up to production areas should also be enforced,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the region would be able to double production of cacao in the next five years with a good system in place, particularly the protocols on farm practices and production.
Muyco said the Philippine Cacao Industry Council is working on a book containing protocols on production that should be adopted by the cacao growers to increase not only the area planted to cacao but also the yield.
He said the global demand for cacao is currently estimated at 5 million metric tons annually, and a shortage is expected in the next 10 years owing to the increasing demand worldwide.
Under Republic Act 11547 of 2021, the entire Davao Region has been declared as the cacao capital and Davao City as the chocolate capital of the country.
The law recognizes “importance of cacao as a driver of rural development not only because of its singular potential as a raw material that can increase the country’s export earnings tremendously, and put the name of the country in the map for producing the finest chocolate beans, but for having provided livelihood to many small farmers in the countryside.”
Out of the 15,000 metric tons of annual cacao production in the Philippines, Muyco said the region’s share accounts for at least 12,000 MT.
For her part, Charita Puentespina, founder of Puentespina Farms, said farmers can expand cacao through intercropping with coconut plantations.
But she added that she believed the production has positively grown, only that current data do not reflect the correct annual growth.
“We have been trying to revive the industry since early 2000 and we’re trying our best to really come up with more production and more areas and still our figures are still in to that 12,000 metric tons since several years back. The very reason is that our efforts to come up with a very good monitoring of our products has not been in pace,” she said.
She said farmers need assistance in terms of fertilizers and training to improve quality, particularly the fermentation and drying process. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)