Nat’l cacao congress highlights latest technology, innovations

The two-day National Cacao Congress 2023 has showcased new and innovative approaches to developing the regions and revitalizing partnerships between government, non-government organizations, and the private sector, an industry leader said. Dante Muyco, chairperson of the Davao Regional Cacao Industry Council said participants to the Nov. 16-17 event are discussing major issues such as the challenges faced by the cacao industry including increasing farm productivity, achieving and maintaining the quality of products, transfer of technologies, marketing, branding, and positioning of the Philippine cacao. 'We believe that these concerns can be global, this is why our partners from the International Cocoa Organization and PUM (Programma Uitzending Managers) Netherlands are participating here, to give us concrete experiences,' Muyco said Thursday. Looking at the opportunities as an industry, Muyco said the Philippines has been consistently topping Cacao of Excellence for the past six years since 2017 and reapi ng various international awards. 'As we all know, the world market prices are at their highest levels, and we are seeing an increasing demand within the Asian region,' he said. He also emphasized that with the vast coconut areas all over the country, increasing farmers' incomes through intercropping gives that positioning for farmers to diversify their farm activities. Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao Leo Tereso Magno said the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is bent on helping the cacao industry prosper through government and private sector cooperation. "Your goal is to address what the cacao industry needs, my office which is under the office of the President, has committed to your leaders that I am always willing to help you," he said. Senator Mark Villar, the guest of honor during the event, also expressed his support for the cacao industry. 'I am one with you in aiming to extend our help for the attendees to achieve higher yields for their cacao farms to reach not only the local demand but to achieve the fame being earned by Filipino cacao growers who have been recognized because of their quality products,' he said. He also acknowledged Jose Saguban, a local cacao farmer, who was chosen as one of the producers of the Top 50 best cocoa bean samples in the world at the prestigious 2019 International Cocoa Awards. Currently, the Philippines alone consumes 50,000 metric tons (MT) of cocoa products annually while the local supply is estimated to be between 10,000-15,000 metric tons a year. The world's cacao requirement in 2014 and 2015 was estimated at 4.1 million MT. Among the Asian countries, the Philippines has a competitive advantage for cacao production due to its strategic location, good climatic conditions, and favorable soil. The Davao region accounts for 81 percent of the Philippines' annual cacao production, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. Davao City is known as the cacao capital of the Philippines with at least 80 percent of cacao crops in the country planted here and in the rest of the region. Source: Philippines News agency