The Department of Agriculture in Negros Oriental provided local farmers with the latest technology on the growing of cacao to steer them towards generating high income.
In support of the Plant, Plant, Plant Program (4Ps), the DA provided cacao farmers in Valencia town with a package of technology seminar on cacao farming.
The training program is mandated under Republic Act 7900, or the High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995, that provides assistance for the production, marketing, and processing of cacao and other high-value crops, a government press release said.
The package of technology is designed to help cacao farmers be fully equipped with knowledge and skills in planting cacao and help them improve their livelihood, Mary Ronville Aba, high value crops program action officer of the DA, said.
The technology includes cultural management, best cacao farming practices, and costs and returns of cacao farming.
“The participants also undergo a practicum on actual pruning of unnecessary branches. To add more enthusiasm to the trainees, we invited a French investor who will directly buy the cacao beans of the farmers, assuring them of market,” Aba said.
French investor Nicolas Astarie said that he wanted to work with cacao farmers for his chocolate-making business.
“I will personally train our cacao farmers for them to be able to produce quality cacao beans. Cacao is a high-value crop so if it is properly taken care of, there will be big revenue,” Astarie said.
Jorge Buling, a farmer from Brgy. Bung-aw, Valencia, who owns a two-hectare cacao area, said the seminar has been informative.
Hilaria Olasiman, also a cacao farmer from Brgy. Malaunay in the town, expressed her gratitude to the DA for conducting the cacao seminar.
“I grew up in cacao farming but our production is only for tablea and not for chocolate. Now that I gained additional knowledge on growing quality cacao and now that there is a direct buyer, I am motivated to plant more cacao,” Olasiman said.
“I have a half hectare of cacao area and have been into cacao farming for almost 10 years but was discouraged to continue farming when my cacao trees were infested with pod rot. Now that I attended this seminar and gained knowledge on how to control and prevent pest and diseases, I will rehabilitate my cacao trees and continue what I have started 10 years ago. Also, we now have a ready market for our cacao beans,” Corsena Montesor of Brgy. Apolong, Valencia, added.*