In La Trinidad, Benguet, the nationwide cacao supply gap is met with a promising opportunity that awaits Cordillerans. According to Armi Garcia, the President of the Philippine Cacao Industry Association (PCIA) and Chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council (PCIC), it is important to consider factors such as location, government support, and harmonized production in order to strategize the boost better.

Photo from The Nut Market

In status quo, the country faces a deficit of an estimated 10 metric tons of fermented cacao beans, leading to failure in meeting the national demand for high-value crops. As a response, Garcia advocates for the optimization of product practices through organizing protocols for fermentation and drying. This guarantees an answer to the market’s quality requirements.

Photo from Radio Philippines Network

The high potential for cacao production in the area is noteworthy. Here, there are elevated terrains ranging from 800 to 1,000 meters above sea level that yield beans with superior taste and quality. The good news is that there are already over 400 cacao growers in the region. The better news is that Garcia proposes associations or cooperatives of farmers to organize them better. Such a collaborative approach will make access to government assistance programs easier for the farmers, especially those that offer support for the equipment needed for the job.

Photo from Food Philippines
Photo from Mennonite Economic Development Associates

According to the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera regional technical director for operations, Danilo Daguio, cacao has great versatility in terms of farming. There are about 50 hectares of cacao plantations in Cordillera which are mostly located in farmers’ backyards. Giving more focus on this industry can only mean expansion.

Photo from KIT Royal Tropical Institute

In terms of compatibility, cacao trees thrive both in highlight and lowland areas, making them compatible with any other crop that exists in the region including coffee beans. Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas views cacao as a valuable crop diversification option because of its versatility, ultimately providing farmers with alternative income sources considering the fluctuation of vegetable prices.

This collective effort will definitely bring wonders to farmers, the local economy, and Cordillerans as a whole. We are yet to see the amazing results of such a timely initiative.

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