Wanted: More land for cacao
DAVAO CITY—Wanted: More land for cacao in Mindanao.
The head of a group of businessmen and farmers involved in cacao production in the island said demand for cacao is outpacing production that farmers are under pressure to produce more of the bean, which is the main ingredient of chocolate.
Val Turtur, executive director of the Cacao Development Industry Association in Mindanao, said global demand for cacao is projected to reach 5 million metric tons by 2020 but production is projected to reach only 4 million MT or a shortfall of 1 million MT.
Several countries, including the Philippines, should seize the business opportunity that demand for cacao offers, according to Turtur.
Mars, one of the biggest chocolate candy manufacturers in the world and which buys cacao from the Philippines and other countries, has projected demand to be 25 percent higher than current output, according to Turtur.
He said to increase production, the amount of land devoted to cacao should also increase.
In Southern Mindanao alone, he said, the current output of 7,000 MT has to be increased to 100,000 MT by 2020 for farmers to catch up with rising demand.
Currently, only about 20,000 hectares are planted to cacao in the three Davao provinces, Compostela Valley and the city of Davao, he said.
“Davao has to plant seven million trees to meet the 2020 target,” he said.
Turtur said the rising global demand for cacao beans could also make cacao “the next big agriculture product to banana.”
To help farmers increase cacao production, Turtur said training programs are being offered by the Cacao Development Center here.
At least 6,000 cacao farmers from Davao City and Davao del Norte have undergone training, he said.
He said experts from Indonesia, also a major cacao producer, are helping in the Southern Mindanao training programs.
Indonesian farmers produce three tons of dried cacao beans per hectare. Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao