Iloilo defers cacao, coffee planting project

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THE Iloilo provincial government’s P10-million cacao and coffee planting project, scheduled for launch by the end of February, might be moved to a later date due to projections of dry weather.

Provincial Agriculture Office head Ildefonso T. Toledo said the delivery of the planting materials is almost complete, with the winning bidder coming from Batangas.

“These are grafted and ready for planting. After three years, they can yield fruit,” he said.

Mr. Toledo said more than 9,000 cacao and 8,800 coffee seedlings were scheduled to be distributed to farmers this week, but a review of the weather forecast has been ordered by Governor Arthur D. Defensor, Sr.

Mr. Defensor told agriculture officials: “You should check the projection of PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) in case summer is extended.”

The governor has also recommended delaying the ceremonial planting and launch in a five-hectare area in Calinog town set for Feb. 28.

“If you distribute them now, the farmers might plant them immediately so the mortality rate will be high. Let us delay it and start planting sometime in May where the survival rate is high,” Mr. Defensor said.

The Iloilo provincial government is positioning the province as a major high-value product grower and supplier as its many upland areas are thought to be suitable for cacao and coffee. — Louine Hope U. Conserva