DAVAO CITY — Cacao farmers in Davao City said they expect the supply of the commodity to be sufficient even with the onset of El Niño.

El Niño, which can cause dry spells or even droughts, has started, government forecasters said, with the full force of the weather phenomenon expected to be felt in the third quarter.

Rex P. Puentespina of Puentespina Farms, makers of Malagos chocolate, said he does not see his cacao to be unduly affected because too much rainfall can actually have a negative effect on growing conditions.

He added at the media forum at Habi at Kape in Abreeza Mall midweek that controlling the cacao pod borer is a bigger concern.

Lizabel G. Holganza, owner of Wit’s Sweets/Gran Verde Farm, said at the forum that smallholders in the Davao Region are taking care to mitigate dry conditions by diversifying their plantings.

“When you have a more diverse planting within your farm then the risks of experiencing extremely low moisture are addressed (via the multiple) layering of trees,” Ms. Holganza said.

She said some of the natural practices being employed include the use of fungi to improve the condition of the soil, to compensate for any negative climate effects.

Fe Oguio, cacao focal person at the City Agriculturist Office, said Davao City cacao is usually planted at high elevations, minimizing the threat from any dry spell.

“Those high elevations have high moisture,” she said, adding that the most vulnerable crops during an El Niño are “cash crops like rice, corn and vegetables, and legumes. Cacao is an industrial crop and usually planted in the highlands so that is why we can still produce,” she said.

Davao City is celebrating World Chocolate Day with a trade fair at the Abreeza Mall between July 7 and 9.

The trade fair will feature 12 Davao chocolate brands that offer single-origin products.

In May 2021, Davao City was declared the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines through Republic Act No. 11547 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte. — Maya M. Padillo