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Cacao has become one of the emerging priority commodities in the region with farmers and their families getting engaged in cacao production. With the growing demand for this commodity there is the need to further capacitate the farmers on cacao production, processing, and marketing because the potential of the region in terms of production and marketing is relatively high.

Engr. Roger Bagaforo, Chief of Research Division of the Department of Agriculture IX (DA) said the conduct of the Cacao Forum will serve as an avenue for both the farmers and government institutions to dialogue and come to terms on how to further develop the cacao industry. “In the next two years we will not focus on the distribution of cacao seedlings but rather on the establishment of processing centers for cacao to further boost the cacao industry and make it more competitive in the local and international market as a processed product”, he said.

The forum hosted by the DA - Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) gathered almost 70 participants exchanged held recently at Rodecric’s Resort in Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay province, with extensive exchange of views and opinions from among cacao farmers/producers, LGU representatives and government line agencies. The forum aims to provide participants with updates on the latest market trends of the cacao industry, business and market opportunities, as well as, to address issues and concerns that may have been affecting the industry in the region.

According to DA-HVCDP Report Officer Albert Cuadra, the region has a total area of 603 hectares planted to cacao and volume of production at 135.30 MT. The province of Zamboanga Del Norte has the highest area of 465 hectares and volume of production at 83.19 MT followed by Zamboanga Sibugay with 101 hectares and volume of production at 30.44 MT. Zamboanga Del Sur has a total area of 26 hectares and 7.70 MT volume of production while Zamboanga City has 11 hectares with 5.97 MT volume of production.

A Market-matching activity was also conducted where a dialogue was made with prospective buyers and representatives from National Food Authority (NFA), KCC Mall de Zamboanga, Mindpro CitiMall, and LB Supermarket. The buyers presented what agricultural products their establishment needs and the volume of supply to sustain the needs of their consumers. While on the part of the farmers/producers they also get the opportunity to present their products to the buyers.

The inclusion of market matching in the forum aims to improve the relation between the buyers and suppliers, also the quantity of important information that the buyers provide and the satisfaction of the sellers. Furthermore, it also gives both the buyers and producers the chance to identify bottlenecks affecting the market and come up with amenable measures that would resolve issues and eventually lead to increased market opportunities and increased profits.

After the forum and market-matching, a field visit was conducted at a cacao farm in the municipality og Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. Among the resource speakers were Valente Turtur, President, CIDAMI & Philippine Cacao Council; Emiliano Carandang, PhilGAP Consultant; Dr. Romulo Cena, Professor, USM; and Angelo Sunglao, President, Cacao Industry for Zampen and Cacao Farmer. (EDWARD NON/DA9)