Kennemer to buy cacao from Zamboanga planters


Two groups of upland farmers in Zamboanga City have secured a deal to supply dried cacao beans to Kennemer Foods International, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The DENR said farmers belonging to the Tolosa Buffer Zone Association (TBZA) and the Salaan Buffer Zone Association (SBZA) have successfully cultivated an estimated 8.2 hectares of cacao land in Zamboanga City.

The planters are also eyeing to sell cacao beans to JAS Agri-ventures Inc.

An initial 10 to 20 sacks of dried cacao beans will be sold to Kennemer Foods per month. This volume is expected to increase next year after the DENR conducted training on cacao farming to boost their production last August.

Kennemer exports high quality cacao beans to global confectionaries such as Mars.

“By the middle of next year, we will have been ready to harvest from more cacao areas that we helped rehabilitate,” said Dr. Reynaldo C. Navacilla, field manager of Protect Wildlife.

Protect Wildlife, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a consortium of agencies helping the watershed natives to learn agriculture and agroforestry in exchange for destructive wildlife practices.

The DENR’s training on cacao farming was conducted with USAID’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

Kasanyangan Center for Rural Development & Microfinancing Inc (KCRDMFI) has supplied UF18 and W10 varieties of cacao seedlings to the communities. KCRDMFI also supplied them with the fertilizers.

The TBZA and SBZA have also been producing their homemade tablea sold at P120 per pack. They produce around 50 packs per month.

The cacao farms of TBZA and SBZA have helped forest communities within the Pasonanca Natural Park to secure a sustainable livelihood.

“Some of them used to poach wildlife in the area.  Some of them used to get firewood in the forests in order to produce charcoal sold to bakeries downtown. With a livelihood now, the majority of them no longer do these destructive practices,” said Navacilla.

As to their agroforestry and intercropping practices, the farmers are able to help conserve soil, reduce soil erosion, and stabilize slopes in the mountains. Intercropped with cacao are coffee and vegetables.

Inday Campaner, protected area superintendent at Pasonanca Natural Park, said DENR’s vision is for the Pasonanca Natural Park to be recognized as an Asean Heritage Park.

Asean Heritage Parks are selected based on their “unique biodiversity and ecosystems, wilderness and outstanding values in scenic, cultural, educational, research, recreational and tourism.”  As such, they become significant sites for conservation.

Strengthening the conservation program in Pasonanca is important even as new flora and fauna species are being discovered in the protected area. Among these are the mistletoe and amorphophallus, according to Dr. Dante Oporto, former provincial environment and natural resources officer of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Partnering with USAID in the effort to help the communities and conserve the environment are Conservation International, DAI Global LLC, Orient Integrated Development Consultants Inc., Conservation International, Rare, and Tanggol Kalikasan.

However, Lorna Guerrero, president of TBZA, said the farmers’ groups need support in maintaining their cacao trees. They need fertilizers, pesticides, and sustained technical assistance.

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