THE quarantine has not affected cacao production, but has kept buyers away, according to Val D. Turtur, president of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. and chairman of the Philippine Cacao Council.

“There is no market outside Davao City, especially for chocolate makers,” he said.

The cacao market slump, which has depressed prices, reflects a broader trend of hard-to-sell crops during the pandemic, which has dampened buying power and disrupted agricultural logistics.

Overall agricultural exports declined 20.6% year on year to $1.45 billion in the second quarter.

Amid pervasive market weakness, Mr. Turtur said the Department of Agriculture’s declaration of Davao as the Philippine cacao capital is serving as a morale-booster for the industry.

He said the official designation will encourage growers to maintain their farms despite low prices while attracting new farmers to join the industry. — Maya M. Padillo