Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Executive Director Janet M. Lopoz said the fund gives a much-needed boost to the new cacao program, which will be formally launched this month.
Part of the budget will be spent for the propagation of seedlings as Mindanao is aiming to hit production of 100,000 metric tons by 2020.
In terms of land coverage, MinDA said the target is 200,000 hectares by next year. There are only 7,413 hectares currently planted to the crop, with most of the farms in the Davao Region.
Intercropping is among the initiatives being implemented on coconut farms in Davao Oriental province that were destroyed when typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) hit the province and other areas of Southern Mindanao in December 2012.
The Davao Oriental provincial government started the project by providing cacao seedlings to the typhoon-affected coconut farmers.
Gov. Corazon N. Malanyaon said the province intends to expand the distribution to other areas suitable for the high-value crop.
Davao Oriental is one of the priority provinces under the MinDA-led cacao program. The others are Sarangani, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental.
About two million cacao seedlings have so far been distributed in the Davao Region, according to Melani A. Providing, regional coordinator for the Department of Agriculture’s high value commercial crops development program.
MinDA has identified cacao, coffee and coconut as the three main crops for development under its inclusive economic growth program.
Meanwhile, several private companies have also started their own cacao programs, the biggest of which is multinational Kennemer Foods International, Inc.
Kennemer Foods has tapped farms in the Davao and Northern Mindanao Regions for its grower program.
The Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) has also identified cacao as among the promising crops and cited Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte as the potential areas for development.
PRDP Deputy Program Director Arnel V. de Mesa earlier said the program will provide financial as well as technical assistance packages for cacao propagation. — Carmelito Q. Francisco