INVESTMENT potential of the cacao industry was emphasized at the Cordillera Cacao Investment Forum on January 25 at the Provincial Capitol, La Trinidad, Benguet.
The forum is a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture – CAR and the Department of Trade and Industry – CAR to show local farmers the vast opportunities of cacao in the region which is part of the Agribusiness Support Promotion and Investment in Regional Expositions (ASPIRE) project regional trade fair and exhibit from January 24-26 to promote marketing for local products direct from the producers and to showcase potential and emerging agricultural livelihoods and industries.
Dubbed as the ‘tree of love’ or ‘food for the gods’, cacao being at its infant stage in the Cordillera has a fast growing market in the Philippines and a huge production volume gap is expanding in the global market, said Arell Bañez, Cordillera Cacao Industry Coordinator.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority listed Davao as the top producing region in the country, contributing 80 percent of the volume while CAR is at one percent.
A Cacao Challenge is now coined which targets a production of 100,000 metric tons 2022. To make this possible, DA’s will be increasing production level and expansion of production areas.
A total of 16 cacao nurseries are established Bañez reported, which were provided by the DA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through its national greening program.
The state of the cacao industry is looking up as presented by Edwin Banquerigo, DTI’s National Cacao Industry Coordinator.
Philippines is among the few countries in the world to grow cacao due to its geographical location. Cacao is an equatorial plant, meaning it can only grow 23 degrees above and below the equator. It is a part of a one billion US dollar industry in other Asian countries and with a commodity that has no product substitute, opportunities are really good.
“Our mission is to achieve a competitive and sustainable Philippine cacao industry. The trend is shifting to darker chocolate so more cacao is needed. Inclusion, convergence, and collaboration among the agencies is what it’s all about,” stressed Bangquerigo.
The internationally recognized local cacao producer, the Malagos Chocolates Agri-ventures, is a prime example of the possibilities available to Filipino cacao farmers.
In an inspiring talk with local farmers at the cacao forum, the Davao-based chocolatier, Rex Puentespina, narrated the journey of the Puentespina Farm and how it managed to make Malagos rise at the top 50 best chocolates, leaving a mark in the global market.
“After years of trial and error we have found that the best formula to make great chocolates is quality cacao beans, the right equipment, and a competent team. It’s important to have passion in what you do to not easily give up,” shared Puentespina.
In line with the agenda of the current government administration to alleviate poverty and improve food security through agricultural inputs, cacao is eyed as a viable source of income especially if with a tree that can make farmers and stakeholders see progress, healthy bodies, profitable incomes and livelihoods in the process. (PR)