ILOILO City – Iloilo’s Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) is eyeing to carry out massive planting of cacao and coffee this year by providing free seedlings.
“The cacao and coffee planting benefited our farmer partners in the province and we aim to continue planting these crops this 2019,” provincial agriculturist Idefolso Toledo said in an interview Friday.
The Iloilo provincial government will provide free seedlings to farmers to encourage them to secure 90 to 99 percent rate of crop survival.
Every hectare of cacao and coffee has the same population density, which requires a total of 1,111 seedlings or planting materials. Each planting material costs PHP50 for cacao and PHP45 for coffee.
“Our farmers could only imagine the benefit they will get from allotting their land and nurturing these crops. They will not anymore worry with the cost of the planting materials, which I guess most of our farmers cannot afford,” Toledo said.
PAO also provides technical assistance to its farmer partners until the harvest season.
Toledo assured that the cacao and coffee supply from Iloilo farmers will have a ready market.
A chocolate processing factory in Passi City, which anticipates a contract with a huge fast-food chain, expressed its willingness to process the chocolate supply from farmer partners. The processing factory also produces export-quality chocolates, Toledo said.
“The factory is very much willing to get the supply from our farmers,” he said.
The agriculture office hopes to start the cacao and coffee planting in the second quarter of the year, just in time for the rainy season.
Toledo explained that the approaching summer season will affect the mortality rate of the crops.
He estimated that the 90-hectare land area for coffee and 80-hectare land area for cacao that were utilized last year will be maintained. Most of these areas were located in Passi City and the towns of Calinog, Dingle, Dueñas, Lambunao, and Janiuay.
PAO already identified 22 towns, mostly in the third district of the province, that are highly sustainable for coffee and cacao.
This covers some 1, 300 hectares of land areas, Toledo said.
The agriculture office is hopeful that the procurement of planting materials will take place this first quarter of the year, as it is included in their annual Investment Plan.
“We are just waiting for the approval of the province’s executive budget,” Toledo said. (PNA)