Mindanao-wide summit underscores cacao industry growth

CACAO MINDANAO. Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (left) discusses industry issues with Director Remelyn Recoter, regional director of the Department of Agriculture XI (middle) and Charita Puentespina, chair of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. during the Mindanao Cacao Summit and Inter-Agency Convergence held Friday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City. Cacao industry players aim to increase Mindanao's cacao production to meet the increasing demands for chocolate in the international market.


DAVAO CITY, Philippines – With the common goal of making Mindanao's cacao globally competitive, industry leaders convened here Wednesday for a three-day summit aimed to provide a platform for the discussion of industry issues and the creation of strategic alliances that will help strengthen the region's cacao sector.

Dubbed as Mindanao Cacao Summit and Inter-agency Convergence, the recently concluded event was spearheaded by the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (CIDAMi), in collaboration with the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

"I see this convergence as our initial step in ensuring a brighter future for the region's cacao industry, as we aim to develop a distinct brand for the cacao and cacao-based products from Mindanao," said MinDA Chair Luwalhati Antonino.

Antonino, who has declared full support for cacao development in Mindanao urged the industry leaders to utilize the summit as an opportunity to craft strategic steps in helping Mindanao cope with the increasing domestic and international demand for chocolate.

In her opening speech she reported that the global supply deficit for cacao currently stands at 160,000 metric tons (MT), and Mindanao aims to produce at least 80,000 to 100,000 MT of cacao beans targeted for both the increasing domestic and global markets.

The Philippines' share to world production is less than 1 percent or only about 4,800 metric tons in 2012. Mindanao contributes 90 percent of the country's total production.

"The challenge is huge and the road ahead for this target is not easy. This means that we have to plant more than 41 million trees by 2018, and I am more than happy to announce that we have already started our massive campaign for the planting of cacao trees," she said.

A production and trading agreement between Marihatag, Surigao del Sur and Kennemer Foods International that will initiate the massive planting of four million cacao trees in the town's 5,000 hectare pilot site was sealed in July this year.

Other initiatives that strategically complement efforts to push for cacao industry development are also being implemented in the island-region.

Cacao is identified as priority crop in the region's industry roadmaps which aim to firm up links between agri-based products and the needed infra and logistics support through the Mindanao Development Corridors Program.

The Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, a public-private sector collaboration aimed to ensure that farming communities become integral components in the agri-industry supply chain was launched by MinDA and the Philippine Business for Social Progress in September this year.

"We also assist in the implementation of the Barangay StraTREEgic Forest Project that supports the National Greening Program targets by intercropping at least half of the targeted 34,000 hectares with cacao trees, which we anticipate to yield at least 6,000 MT of cacao by 2016," Antonino said.





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