There is an increasing global demand for cacao, a key ingredient used to make chocolates; however cacao global shortage is predicted at 1 million metric tons by 2020. The Philippine’s cacao industry, although full of potential, is falling short of the market’s demands. ASSIST, with co- financing from Yara and KFW DEG, implemented Project Cacao PRO (Cacao Productivity and Profitability) to tackle this issue.
Through project Cacao PRO, four model farms have been established in Davao City, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, and Agusan del Sur, respectively. These model farms aim to showcase best practices in cacao farming that the project beneficiaries can emulate. ASSIST’s Project Management Unit Head, Riza Verano and Project Manager, Lalaine Alfaro visited the sites of the model farms on 16 to 17 November for the official signing of the Memorandum of Agreement with Yara Fertilizers Philippines Inc. and the model farm owners.
Aside from the model farms, an intensive training for 25 cacao specialists, which started in August 2018, was conducted. Modules included cacao field establishment and upkeep, integrated pest and disease management, postharvest processing, Good Agricultural Practices, nursery establishment, and more. Furthermore, postharvest facilities to increase the quality of harvested beans are planned to be turned over to the local farmers by the end of January 2019.
Zosimo Malaza, owner of one of the model farms, said, “The CacaoPRO project just started implementing the model farm less than six months ago but I am already seeing a boost in my production now.” The program also helped Zosimo increase his technical knowledge and transfer his learnings to other famers working with him.