Iloilo province gears for massive cocoa and coffee planting

ILOILO CITY — The Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) of Iloilo is now preparing for massive planting of cocoa and coffee in the province.

In an interview Tuesday, Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo said they are now closely working with their hired consultant for the plan.

He said a series of meetings with the Municipal Agriculture Offices (MAOs) is being conducted to profile possible areas suited to be planted with cocoa and coffee and identify farmers who could become their partners.

Initially, PAO already identified 22 towns, covering about 1,300 hectares of land in the province that are “highly suitable” for coffee and cacao. He mentioned that most of the towns are found in the third district of the province.

Simultaneously, PAO is also preparing nurseries where planting materials will be grown. Toledo said they will use the existing nurseries in La Granja in Lapaz district and expand it in Agri-Aqua Research and Technology (ART) Center in Brgy. Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo.

Also, Toledo said they might establish a nursery in a goat farm in Concepcion, Iloilo to serve needs of farmers in the fifth district.

Further, the provincial government might provide assistance to the LGUs to fast track the planting of cacao and coffee as they are now finalizing the guidelines.

He said they are now challenged as Iloilo governor Arthur Defensor Sr. has been eager to see the province as one of the major suppliers of not only of the raw coffee and cacao but also processed products.