Issue of August 20, 2017
Mt. Province

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Benguet targets to flourish cacao industry in the north
by Ofelia C. Empian

Benguet wants to get a share of the market of the chocolate industry as it strengthens its farmers to venture into cacao farming.

Benguet Gov. Crescencio Pacalso said there is an ongoing series of trainings for local farmers to go into cacao production.

Pacalso said the farmers need to undergo various trainings on cacao production before they are given 50 cacao seedlings to start their venture.

Last year, the province has set up the Provincial Cacao Council with members from the regional office of the departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry, provincial government of Benguet, and local farmers, among other stakeholders assigned to oversee the cacao production project.

Provincial Agriculturist Lolita Bentres said her office has acquired the variety of cacao from Davao, which is one of the biggest producers of cacao in the country, as planting material.

She said the Davao variety is more resistant from diseases than the existing varieties in Benguet.

“Most of the farmers have backyard farms, our benchmarking is ongoing,” Bentres said.

She said they have listed 45 farmer beneficiaries for the first batch of the program, dispersed with 2,350 pieces of cacao seedlings.

She said there are 3,350 pieces of seedlings for the second batch of beneficiaries.

Her office is targeting the former marijuana cultivators as beneficiaries for the second batch training of cacao farmers.

“The first batch of beneficiaries were supposedly for the surrenderers but they did not respond so we opened it to the farmers who are interested to venture into cacao farming,” Bentres said.

She said they will coordinate directly to the local government unit of Kibungan for them to encourage the surrenderers to venture into cacao farming.

At the onset of the government’s war on drugs last year, Pacalso earlier said they are coordinating with the Philippine National Police and the Department of Social Welfare Development for the services ne-cessary to be given to suspected marijuana cultivators who wanted to turn from their ways.

“We need to prove ourselves that we can provide the quantity,” he said when asked of the possible market for cacao.

He said the program is just starting and they hope that in every municipality, there would be farmers planting cacao.

Bentres said the cacao’s climatic requirement is middle to low elevation that’s why Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, Tublay, and Kapangan are seen as suitable areas for production.

Some areas in Itogon, Sablan, Kapangan have existing cacao farms.

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