MANILA — Senators on Tuesday underscored the government's need to strengthen its programs supporting the country’s cacao industry.
Such position was stressed during the plenary discussion for Senate Bill 1741 or the proposed act declaring Davao region as the “cacao chocolate capital" of the Philippines, sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar.
Davao region can produce a maximum of 8,000 metric tons of cacao per year, which, according to Villar, it aims to increase this 2021.
“From 8,000 metric tons (MT), they are committing to grow 60,000 MT of cacao… They have a Philippine cacao industry roadmap,” the senator explained.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, during the period of interpellation, however, pointed out the seeming failure of the appropriate government agencies to extend full support to the nation’s cacao industry amid the growing demand worldwide.
Villar admitted this and said agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA) have yet to realize such potential in the country’s agriculture sector.
She echoed her colleagues' position on the need to support the cacao industry given the product's demand abroad.
Pangilinan said the government needs to recognize that such opportunities as strengthening the cacao industry must be treated as a matter involving “food security," which he also described as a form of national security.
Villar said the agricultural potentials of various provinces grow basically because of the own initiative of the local governments.
She cited as example the island province of Batanes, where officials applied what they learned abroad to improve their crop productions.
“Tingin ko talaga, improvement ng agriculture industry will come from the LGU, not from the national government,” the senator said.
(I really believe that the improvement in the agriculture industry will come from the LGU.)
Sen. Pia Cayetano also asked the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry to come up with a comprehensive program in support of the cacao industry.
The bill's voting was suspended after the period of interpellation.