THE Cacao Industry Association of Mindanao Inc. (Cidami) said on Wednesday that small cacao farmers suffer mostly from financial constraints and that in order to maintain stable farming they tap different financial institutions to get loans.
Cidami executive director Val Turtur, speaking at the Club 888 Forum on Wednesday at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao, said because of this situation they have coordinated with some banks who can commit and extend loans as a start-up capital to small farmers.
Turtur identified these banks as Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of Philippines (DBP), and Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines.
Aside from the banks, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Davao Region is also willing to extend financial assistance to cacao growers, according to Turtur.
He said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), through the LBP, shelled out some P7 billion two years ago as a loan to farmers with 12 percent interest. However, only a few have so far availed of the Jica loan due to stringent requirements imposed by the bank especially on project proposals.
Turtur said Cidami is also assisting some of the farmers in crafting proposals that will meet the strict requirements of the banks.
The campaign of the Cidami in encouraging farmers to intercrop some coconut plantations with cacao is intended to meet the 100,000 metric tons, a demand by one of the world's largest producer of candies Mars Chocolate by 2020.
Kakao Konek, a three-day conference and exhibitions, is among the programs that would strengthen Cidami's campaign in encouraging farmers to venture as well into cacao farming.
Kakao Konek deputy director Dante Muyco said about one percent of the total cacao production in the Philippines is exported to countries in Europe, United States and some parts of Asia.
"This will promote cacao as one of the major crops. Cacao is relatively small industry today but they see the Philippines as a potential supplier," he said.
Muyco said even the local market in the country is big enough to sustain the market demand. In the Philippines, around 80 percent of the available cacao in the market is imported.
Lizabel Holganza, conference director of Kakao Konek, said they have invited some of the international embassies such as United States, Netherlands, China, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Turkey, Canada, and United Kingdom.
She said these countries are heavy consumers of cacao and that these may find new international markets for the high quality roasted cacao of the Philippines.