Tuesday, March 1, 2011

(Chocolates) Cocoa and it's suitability for growing in the Philippines... a mental exercise, Part 2.

"But more interesting, he (Quarshie) realized that it produced possibly the most perfect cash crop imaginable. The tree thrives in a mixed farm operation and it flourishes best when surrounded by other crops, especially food-producing ones. Since Theobroma needs shade, the tall banana plant with its broad canopy of leaves is a perfect neighbour; yam, and cassava crops around its feet contribute to a nourishing sponge-like mulch, perfect for retaining moisture and a habitat for the tiny mites that pollinate the fragile cocoa flower."

To somebody familiar with the Philippine countryside, how familiar is the above evoked scenery?  I might also add other cash crops to the mix, plus chickens, goats, etc. Wouldn't this be a change from, or in addition to, the monoculture of rows of sugar cane so familiar to us.

Carol Off adds:
"And there is no machine that can cultivate or harvest cocoa as effectively as the human hand. Compact, family-run mixed farm operations are ideal for Theobroma, and for Africans."

There is no shortage of man/woman-power in the Philippines and the break-up of big farms due to government land reform programs lends itself well to growing cocoa. Just change the wording from "Africans" to "Filipinos".
The climate may not be quite equatorial but I'm sure there is a suitable variety for a zone between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator.
Growing cocoa is not a new enterprise in the Philippines. There already is a thriving industry in the Philippines. But as far as I know, cocoa is a relatively minor agricultural product on my home island of Negros.
In Part 3 of this series, I will look into the statistics for cocoa in Negros.
Part 4 of this series will look into the cautionary issues in growing cocoa... or lessons learned from other countries.
* Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate: Investigating the Dark side of the World's Most seductive sweet. Random House, Canada. 2006

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