Kennemer expands cacao production

Source: Business World


DAVAO CITY ­­ Multinational food company Kennemer Foods International, Inc. is expanding its footprint in Surigao del Sur through a partnership with seven towns for cacao production that will cover 1,400 hectares over the next five years.

Based on the memorandum of understanding that the company will sign with the local government units (LGUs) within the month, a copy of which was obtained by BusinessWorld, each municipality will allot 200 hectares each for Kennemer.

The municipalities, collectively known as Macasaltabayami (Marihatag, Cagwait, San Agustin, Lianga, Tago, Bayabas, and San Miguel), will be represented by Mayor Allan A. Pelenio of Marihatag.

Under the proposed agreement, the company will provide P1.12­million worth of planting materials every year to the seven towns at an economical price.

It will likewise “facilitate access to credit, including for cacao farmers in the province who are outside the provincial cacao program”.

The municipal governments, on the other hand, will have to set aside funds to help the farmers pay for the planting materials and buy other farm inputs.

The cacao harvest will be purchased by Kennemer at “prices linked to the world price”.

Kennemer will also train cacao farmers, some of whom under a more rigid program for becoming “cacao doctors.”

This training will be done with support from the LGUs.

The company will also provide “broader support for the industry in the municipalities… to improve yields and quality, to manage pest and disease, and to help address any developments that may impact the quantity and quality of cacao production in the municipalities.”

In turn, the LGUs will also be responsible for identifying and securing suitable land areas for cacao production, assign the farmers and assist them with organizing themselves.

The municipal governments will also have to develop a program that will modernize cacao production and create related jobs for the farmers.

The collective agreement is part of Mr. Pelenio’s initiative to include neighboring towns in cacao production after his municipality signed a similar partnership with the company for the development of about 5,000 hectares of cacao farms.

The mayor earlier told BusinessWorld that he aims to encourage the leaders of the other municipalities “to join in this endeavor so they will also reap its fruit.”

Meanwhile, Kennemer said it is looking at expanding its cacao production to about 50,000 hectares in the country within the next five years with 80% of the areas in Mindanao.

Kennemer President Simon Bakker said they are focusing on Mindanao because the quality of the harvest has proven to be better than in other parts of the world, particularly Indonesia.

The company is targeting to develop about 8,000 hectares in the country, which will be expanded to 18,000 hectares by next year, including the farms in Marihatag.

Aside from Surigao del Sur, the company has also set up farms in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Agusan del Sur, Davao City and the southern part of Palawan.

If the 50,000­hectare target is achieved, it will pave the way for setting up a processing plant. ­
— Carmelito Q. Francisco