GOOD news to Mindanao farmers as the DAR linked arms with the Kennemer Foods International, Inc. (KFI) to help provide them additional source of income through the production of export-quality cacao beans.
DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the Cacao Contract Growing Program seeks to attain two important objectives: “Provide our farmer-beneficiaries additional income and gain acccess to the international market.”
KFI President Simon Bakker said that the Philippines’ annual consumption of cocoa is 30,000 tons, yet production is only about 6,000 tons a year.
“This presents a big opportunity for your ARBs (agrarian reform beneficiaries) especially here in Mindanao where the climate is suitable for cacao growing,” Bakker said.
According to Mr. Bakker, cacao trees need a little shade which makes it an ideal intercrop with coconut.
Under the agreement, KFI will teach and train farmers in the development and scaling of cacao production. It will also assist the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in consolidating their produce through block farms. The block farms comprise agricultural lands belonging to beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“The agreement ensures the rights of farmer-beneficiaries to retain control and possession of their awarded lands throughout the duration of the three-year project,” said de los Reyes.
The cacao project, which commenced in June this year covers 10,000 hectares of ARB lands in Mindanao.
Working in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) through the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), De los Reyes said that DAR will be extending financial assistance through loan to cacao farmers especially the CARP beneficiaries in Mindanao hopefully by next year.
“We will provide financial assistance to interested cacao farmers. Each of them is allowed to borrow up to P60,000 per hectare,” said de los Reyes.