Recently, many Filipinos are now taking an interest in growing cocoa or cacao for a couple of reasons. First, it is not that expensive to manage like other crops that other people are farming these days. Second, the demand for cocoa all over the world, according to statistics, is very high that there have been shortages globally. And finally, Cacao is considered a tropical crop (crops that thrive well on regions occupying the equator), the Philippines has a great potential in growing cacao.
- Collect seeds only from ripe and healthy pods.
- Discard seeds that are swollen and of different shape
- Select bigger seeds
- Remove paste that covers the seeds by rubbing the seeds with sawdust or sand.
- Wash the seeds to remove the paste effectively.
- Cacao seeds are sensitive to fungal attacks and could lead to non-germination. It is best to soak cleaned seeds in a fungicide solution for about 10 minutes.
- Spread the seeds on wet sacks and cover with damp newspaper for 24 hrs.
- Keep it moist but well ventilated to avoid the formation of fungi.
- Start collecting seeds that show signs of germination (a pig tail-like root appears on one side). Usually, germination starts after two days.
- Sow the pre-germinated seeds not more than 1 cm deep in prepared polybags. Be sure seeds are sown with the pigtail-root pointed downwards.
- Use select 8 x 10 polybags. The soil must reach 2 to 3 cm from the top of the plastic bag.
- If possible, sterilize soil by boiling soil with water in drums or other convenient containers. In some cases, spraying formaline solutions also help clean soils. The cheapest way to sterilize soil is through the use of solar drying.
Loamy to sandy loam soils are the most suitable medium in terms of physical property for raising seedlings.
- Graft seedling using proper grafting techniques and high-quality cacao “scion” to ensure growth and abundant yield of desired cacao variety. (Quality cacao seedlings are readily available at your neighborhood seedling suppliers like the Happy Growers Seedling Supply in Davao City.
- The right time to plant is during the early morning or late afternoon.
- It is not advisable to plant seedling with young and soft flush leaves as they are susceptible to sunburn, planting shocks or stress.
- The best season to plant in the field is during the onset of the rainy season.
- The size of the hole should be big enough to accommodate the ball of the soil mass.
- Typically, a hole of 30 cm wide x 30 cm long and 30 cm deep.
- In holing, the surface of the soil should be separated from the sub-soil.
Approximately it takes 2-3 years for the seeds to grow fully and before you can harvest. A single healthy pod could produce a minimum of 200 grams of dried cocoa seeds. A single cacao tree can produce an average of 20 fresh cacao pods. On average, each cacao tree can give you at least 3.5 kilograms of dried cocoa seeds, which is equivalent to 350 Philippine pesos.
Now think of this – What if you have a total of 100 healthy cacao trees planted today? In 2-3 years, you will likely start to have a passive gross income of at least Php 35,000 per month. A cacao tree never stops bearing fruits as long as it is healthy.