Three (3) agricultural products in the province are considered priority commodities as classified by the Department of Agriculture (DA) 12.
In the recent Provincial Development Council (PDC) meeting, Architect Lito Y. Uy presented that cassava, coffee and cacao were the 3 agricultural products that met the Commodity Prioritization Criteria set by DA 12
Architect Uy represents the South Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc in the PDC.
“The criteria include suitability, market potential, impact on the poor and number of growers/producers,” Uy stressed,” and these 3 met the standards set by DA 12.”
Uy added that the present domestic market demand based from agriculture statistics are cassava granules, dried green coffee beans and fermented cacao beans.
Cassava granules or chips is used as animal feed and can be processed into alcohol, fuel and citric acid.
Green coffee beans, particularly the Arabica and Robusta varieties, are the current demand not only for direct consumption as brewed coffee but likewise as sweeteners, lotion, and organic acid, among others.
Cacao beans by-products, on the other hand, include animal feed, potash, mulch, jam and marmalade, as well as cocoa butter, powder or liquor, and used in soft drinks and alcohol production.
Data presented during the PDC showed that 3,997.18 hectares are planted with cassava, 2,429 for coffee and 80 hectares for cacao province-wide
But according to Nelson Beltran, PPDO Special Projects Division chief, “the province is set to develop the cassava market first, to be followed by coffee and cacao.”
South Cotabato is the top producing cassava province in region 12 with 32.855 metric tons/hectare and highest yield ratio in the country with 24.7 metric tons per hectare, DA 12 records show.
In the domestic market, cassava commercial buyers are San Miguel Foods, Inc. and Mindanao Agri.
San Miguel Foods, Inc. and Mindanao Agri have a demand of 75,000 and 25,000 metric tons, respectively, but producers can only supply 30,000 metric tons only.
Aside from commercial buyers, open buyers Bio-tech Farms and Progressive Farms demand comprised more than 30,000 metric tons.
The cassava producers in the province were grouped into 5 clusters with Cluster 1comprising Koronadal City and Tantangan; Cluster 2, Tampakan and Tupi ; Cluster 3, Polomolok, Lake Sebu and T’boli; Cluster 4, Banga and Norala; Cluster 5, Surallah, Sto. Nino, T’boli and Lake Sebu.
Samahang Nayon Polo cooperative based in Polomolok will serve as the lead proponent in the cassava marketing.
It is a recipient of a P39-million loan from the Philippine Rural Development Program, courtesy of World Bank.