THE SMALL landlocked municipality of San Isidro, with a population of under 27,000 as of the 2015 census, wants to become the cacao capital of Davao del Norte province.

The cacao industry in the town got together last month through a forum organized by the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) to discuss how to achieve that goal.

“This is a welcome development for us because San Isidro is a fourth-class municipality. We need the support from other stakeholders to deal with the limitations,” Municipal Administrator Allan Delideli was quoted in a statement released by PEF.

Apart from local government officials, representatives from the business sector, community leaders, farmers, and PEF trustees and program committee members attended the gathering.

PEF Executive Director Roberto R. Calingo said the forum served as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships and cooperation to build up “the cacao commodity.”

San Isidro has a total land area of 15,249 hectares with 3,600 hectares planted to cacao.

PEF said aside from developing the cacao industry, also discussed during the forum were strategies to cope with falling copra prices, including intercropping cacao with coconuts, improving farming practices, value-adding, and improving the quality of nuts.

The forum was part of a two-day visit by PEF’s board and program committee members to look into the foundation’s efforts to help the town move up in the agricultural value chain.

The group visited model and demo cacao and coconut farms, as well as local enterprises of the Laak Multipurpose Cooperative and Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc. — Marifi S. Jara