The global demand for cocoa is estimated to reach between 4.7 million to 5 million metric tons by 2020, but a cocoa global shortage is also predicted at 1 million MT the same year, as reported by the Department of Agriculture. In the Philippines, the local consumption is at 50,000 MT every year, and the local supply is only around 10,000 MT. To avoid this impending deficit, the Philippines committed to produce 100,000 MT of fermented beans for the export and domestic markets through 40% annual increase in production by 2020.

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry Region IV-A, who embarked on a joint project to contribute to the world’s demand on cacao and to help the Philippine cacao industry to become more competitive and sustainable, conducted the Regional Cacao Industry Convergence: Technology-Investment Forum on 17 August 2016 at the DA-STIARC, Maraouy, Lipa City, Batangas. The seminar aimed to use commodity development to pursue poverty alleviation and environmental protection while advancing economic and inclusive growth.

Cacao, also known as the “tree of love” and food of the Gods, produces dried and fermented fatty seed, which is used to make chocolates. Today, cacao is now often applied in food, beverage, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

In his presentation of the 2016-2022 Harmonized National Cacao Industry Road Map, DTI XI Assistant Regional Director Edwin Banquerigo highlighted the importance of improving farm productivity, increasing production and access to quality planting materials, continuing research and development, and strengthening, expanding, and promoting the industry.

“Because cacao has strong domestic and export market demand, it is now considered a very important commodity. Cacao can provide more jobs and livelihood opportunities and promotes countryside development. Not only it is less prone to severe fluctuation but also requires low start-up cost,” said Mr. Banquerigo, who is also the DTI National Cacao Cluster Coordinator.

Mr. Valentino Turtur, Executive Director of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. and the Chairperson of the National Cacao Industry-Technical Working Group, discussed the basics of cacao production and the importance of cultural management such as round weeding, platform making, chupon removal, pruning, and mulching. Ms. Kelly Go, Managing Director of Oro Filipinas, and Mr. Gerardo Baron, CEO of Magdalena Chocolates, talked about the global trends in cacao and possible direct partnerships with cocoa farming individuals and groups.

“We are willing to conduct regular, comprehensive training to help growers maximize their potential and to offer significant price premiums to induce good practices and planting of cacaos,” said Ms. Go.
More than 200 participants from the micro, small, and medium enterprises, government agencies, private sector, and other stakeholders attended the forum. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agrarian Reform, Food and Drug Administration, Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Small Business Corporation provided strong support for the program.

The Regional Cacao Council-Technical Working Group for CALABARZON was also created during the session. The new officers will be part of the National Cacao Council and will represent the region in the Asia Pacific Cocoa Conference in Davao City on September 15-17, 2016.