DAVAO Oriental plans to expand its cacao plantations by 15,000 hectares to further develop the cacao industry and help improve the income of the province’s cacao farmers.
Some 3 million cacao seedlings will be planted under the expansion plan, provincial agriculturist Rotchie Ravelo said during the Provincial Cacao Industry Research and Development Extension (RDE) consultation, promotion and investment forum held in Mati City last week.
He said the province also aims to improve tree productivity of two kilos dried fermented beans to increase farmers’ annual income from P80,000 to P90,000 per hectare.
“Davao Oriental has a total of 4,657 hectares planted to cacao or intercropped with coconut and other crops producing 1,771 MT [metric tons]of non-fermented beans per year,” he said.
“However, the number is decreasing since some of these trees are already old and no longer productive as before. Some trees were also cut and planted with other crops,” he stressed.
At the same forum, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said the cacao industry is projected to be the next big thing in the province second only to coconut.
The governor thanked the Department of Agriculture in Region XI for providing the province with cacao planting materials to expand its production areas.
He said the provincial government will train cacao farmers to become cacao processors instead of mere producers of beans so that they can sell not just cacao beans but cacao products as well such as tablea and processed chocolate, which offer premium prices.
Dayanghirang said farmers should be familiar with and must observe Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in their farms for their products to meet international standards and be more competitive in the global market.
“Our resources are not sufficient but with the support of the national government particularly the DA we can attain our vision for the cacao industry in the province,” Dayanghirang said.
He added that he plans to discuss agricultural developments of Davao Oriental with DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to ensure that the province’s agricultural priorities are aligned with the thrust of the national government and to gain more support.