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Quezon province seen as emerging cacao hub in Luzon

Author: DA Communications Group | 2 December 2020

The province of Quezon may soon be another powerhouse for cacao production in the country.

Already, cacao farming is being promoted in nine towns in the province, namely: Atimonan, Plaridel, Lopez, Gumaca, Perez, Calauag, Tagkawayan, Guinayangan, and Quezon.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on November 30, 2020, inaugurated a cacao facility in Gumaca, Quezon, led by Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Quezon Fourth District Rep. Angelina “Dra. Helen” Tan, and DA Region 4A Director Arnel de Mesa.

They also launched a range of “Tangerine” chocolate products of the Four K Kakao Farm, as well as distributed cash and food subsidy for marginal farmers and fisherfolk (CFSMFF) in the fourth district of Quezon.

“Tangerine” is dark chocolate made by cacao farmers and members of the Kakao Integrated Development for Livelihood and Transformation, with the guidance and assistance of Rep. Tan, who is already known in the province as the “Chocolate Queen of Luzon.”

The agriculture chief lauded the skills, diligence, and resilience of cacao farmers who are behind the success of the “Tangerine” brand.

Binabati ko kayo mga nagtatanim ng kakaw sa pagkakaroon n’yo ng sariling brand ng tsokolate na maituturing na isa sa mga bunga ng inyong pagsusumikap na mapaunlad ang industriya ng kakaw,” said Secretary Dar during the event.

Patuloy kayong magsumikap at ‘wag mawalan ng pag-asa dahil ang pagkakaroon ng pag-asa ay makakatulong upang umahon ang sektor ng agrikultura at ang bansa; magsilbi nawa kayong mga haligi sa pag-unlad ng bansa,” he added.

He advised the farmers to intercrop cacao under coconut, as well as Cardaba or saba and livestock, like cattle and goats, to earn more income and add value to their enterprise.

“We must endeavor to make farming a profitable venture. Farmers should be open to and adopt innovative ideas and technologies. This is our vision—to modernize and industrialize Philippine agriculture,” he said.

The cacao facility in Gumaca also hosts the DA Calabarzon’s technology demonstration farm and bud wood garden, with certified and tagged UF18 and BR25 cacao varieties.

The DA 4A through its regional high-value crops development program also granted the Four K Kakao Farm with a cacao processing facility and equipment worth P1.5 million for their chocolate production facility.

Secretary Dar said the Gumaca facility can later be expanded to include a coconut processing facility, and a banana tissue culture laboratory that will provide farmers free seedlings.

As coconut remains a major crop in Quezon, Secretary Dar said the DA, through the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), aims to increase by three- to four-fold the current productivity of only 45 nuts per coconut tree annually to 150 to 200 nuts per tree. He instructed PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal to promote hybrid varieties, including aromatic coconut for its sweet coconut water.

For his part, DA 4A Director de Mesa said the farmers and fisherfolk in the fourth district of Quezon have received to date P27.1-million (M) worth of agricultural interventions, while the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has extended P63.3-M worth of interventions that included two 62-footer boats.

Further, the DA-PCA has allocated a total of P15.2 M as cash incentives to coconut farmers plus other support like livestock animals and fertilizers.

Secretary Dar also presented other DA programs and interventions for Quezon farmers and fishers, including:

  • SUrvival and REcovery Assistance Program (SURE Aid), where farmers and fishers can borrow up to P25,000 with no-collateral, zero-interest, and payable in 10 years;
  • Another round of P5,000 cash assistance from excess rice tariff to be distributed next year for small rice farmers, tilling two hectares and less; and
  • Enhanced KADIWA ni Ani at Kita financial grant assistance program, where farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) can procure hauling and transport vehicles and postharvest equipment.

Director de Mesa, who was recently promoted by Secretary Dar as assistant secretary for operations, said more than 81,000 non-rice farmers (corn, coconut, and sugarcane), indigenous peoples, and fishers in Calabarzon are expected to benefit from the cash and food aid program. ### (By ARC, DA4-A RAFIS & StratComms)

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