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Capitol to Camotes coops: Invest in Cacao farming

| by: Katrina Diaz

_MG_2594The Cebu Provincial Cooperative Affairs Office (PCAO) encouraged cooperatives members in Camotes Island to consider investing in the Cacao industry as global demands for the Malvaceae fruit is rising.

In the sidelines of the two-day coops mandatory training held in San Francisco, Camotes Island, PCAO officer Danilo Villamora said that there’s a move to make Cebu a cacao-producing province that can certainly benefit Cebuanos especially small farmers.

The mandatory coop training is a regular activity of the provincial government to help facilitate the needs of the cooperatives in Cebu province in its entrepreneurial objective.

According to Department of Agriculture (DA), the global demand for cacao beans is estimated to reach five million metric tons (MT) by 2020. By then there will be a deficit of one million MT in the global supply, said DA.

Kennemer Foods International (KFI), an agri-business company based in Davao, revealed that three cooperatives in the province have invested millions of pesos in cacao-farming since 2015.

The investing coops are Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LMPC), Compostela Market Vendors Cooperative (Comavenco) and Sibonga Multi Purpose Cooperative.

KFI is considered by cooperatives as its ‘captured market’ since it is in the business of buying dried fermented cacao beans, said KFI Agri-Credit Head Virginio Jamon.

Last year, KFI partnered with cooperatives to ensure that there will be such kind of products.

Roy Tolibas Bosque, LMPC-Cacao focal person, explained that small farm owners can grow cacao and sell them to KFI, through clustering of areas in the province. One cluster is equal to 30 hectares of land or 30,000 cacao trees.

“Farmers growing other products such as coconut or mango can still plant cacao as it only requires a small space to grow and 30% of sunlight for it to survive. It can be planted underneath other trees like mango or coconut,” he said.

A local cacao farmer with one hectare of land can earn as much as P200,000 annually which is higher than growing mango, coconut and palm oil, Bosque added.

Last year, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) also shelled out P65 million loans as start-up capital for cacao industry.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) thrives in countries with humid tropical climate. (Katrina Marie Diaz)