Bicol speeds up cacao propagation
Farmers in the Bicol region are discovering that the cacao trees they are inter-cropping with pili and coconut trees could give them a lot more income as global demand for chocolate rises and supply drops.
The Department of Agriculture’s regional office in Bicol has just trained 40 more farmers from Camarines Sur on commercial cacao production.
The DA is eyeing six Camarines Sur towns for its cacao propagation program: Minalabac, Goa, Tigaon, Lupi, Sipocot and Libmanan.
Through the 40 farmers, the DA hopes to spread quality planting materials, inputs and other technology to boost the country’s cacao production. More training sessions are eyed this year.
The DA said cacao inter-cropping gives a farmer an additional income of P60,000 per hectare at about 500 trees per hectare.
The Bicol region has 24,264 hectares of coconut lands inter-cropped with cacao.
It aims to produce 4,000 metric tons of high-quality cacao seeds by 2020.
Annual global production of cacao is 4.2 million tons and the demand is projected to rise 3 percent every year.