THE cacao industry in some parts of Central Luzon including Pampanga is growing rapidly over the past few years.

This was learned from Edna Dizon, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Aurora province, during a recent forum dubbed News at Hues at the Park Inn By Radisson Clark hosted by the Pampanga Press Club (PPC).

DTI had started industry clustering where one of the priority commodities is cacao, according to the official.

“From 2013 up to the present, ang DTI and Regional Cacao Industry Council led by the Kapampangan Development Foundation Incorporated nag initiate po kami ng various programs to really promote the potentials of cacao,” Dizon said.

“We started along the value chain of the industry from inputs, production, processing up to the end market,” she added.

The DTI director noted the success in the industry in terms of sustaining the production, the interest of cacao farmers.

The industry is also gaining the interest of the private sector and small and medium enterprises now have their own plantation and engaging in the value adding, according to Dizon.

“So mayroon na po tayong mga tablea, dark chocolate ngayon. I think we believe na kung ang Davao nakayanan nila why not in Region III (Central Luzon),” she said.

Dizon announced the upcoming 4th Regional Cacao Congress which will be held at Kingsborough Convention Center in the City of San Fernando on December 3, 2019.

“Ang Cacao Congress po ay naglalayong na ma-gather lahat ng ating cacao stakeholders, industry players and relevant non-government organizations and other private sectors na makita kung ano na po ang status ng cacao industry dito sa Central Luzon,” the DTI official added.

Cacao is one of the high-value crops being pushed by the Department of Agriculture, Dizon said.

The KDF is leading the industry in Pampanga, owning around 100 farms situated in Lubao, Floridablanca, Bacolor and other towns.

“They are into the production of this cacao and we are expecting that after three to four years ay magha-harvest na po ito. We are in the cacao link, it’s linking the industry through knowledge sharing,” Dizon said.

“We wanted to have a matching na and we have partnered with Mr Jess Nicdao through the three [business] chambers in Pampanga na mag-invite po ng prospective businessmen to look into the potential of the industry just like what Davao has done ngayon na nagiging known na po ang cacao chocolate tablea sa France,” she added.

Cacao or Cocoa tree is a small evergreen tree native to the deep tropical regions of Mexico. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make chocolate liquor, cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and chocolate.