MISAMIS ORIENTAL: The provincial government of Misamis Oriental has committed about 40,000 hectares for a cacao plantation to transform the province into a ”chocolate hub” of Northern Mindanao.
Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano said the provincial government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kennemen Foods International (KFI), a Dutch company, considered as the world’s largest supplier of “cacao” seeds in the United States, Europe, and Canada.
The MOU establishes a production and trading agreement with the KFI aimed at integrating and scaling up the cacao production in Misamis Oriental’s 23 municipal towns and two component cities of El Salvador in the west district and Gingoog City in the east district, Emano said.
He said that the Provincial Agriculture Office is now in the process of identifying an initial 5,000 hectares of land which could be suitable areas for cacao (Theobroma cacao) in the province.
Cacao seeds are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate and could be intercropped with other agricultural plants like coconut trees.
He said that a hectare of cacao plants could generate as much as PHP200,000 annually compared to PHP40,000 estimated annual income for coconuts.
“A farmer could easily earn as much as PHP500,000 annually in a two-hectare farm with fully grown and productive cacao trees,” Emano added.
He said that the provincial government is excited with this development since KFI, a major supplier of U.S.-based Mars chocolate, also specializes in growing and trading high-quality agricultural crops including fermented cacao beans.
“Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar industry. With a vast tract of agricultural land, Misamis Oriental is eyeing a share of the multi-billion cacao industry in the global market,” Board Member Benedict Lagbas, chair of the province’s committee on agriculture said.
Last week, Emano has directed the provincial board’s committee on agriculture to form a technical working group (TWG) that would study the future marketing plan designed to benefit the farmers in the province, particularly the beneficiaries of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that expired on June 30, 2014.
Emano said the provincial government eyes the Land Bank of the Philippines as the possible institution that would finance the ambitious program.
The province intends to start the initial planting of the cacao seeds in the 5,000-hectare farm lots endorsed by the TWG in September this year, Emano said. PNA