LOCAL and regional cacao growers and processors launched a chocolatey weekend festival in Zamboanga City.

The event, dubbed as the 1st Mindanao Chocolate Festival, kicked off Friday, May 27, at the SM City Mindpro activity area. It is set to end on Sunday, May 29.

The festival is being held in partnership with Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, and Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (CIDAMI).

The festival serves as a venue for cacao growers and chocolate processors to showcase and promote their cacao by-products.

The fair features eight exhibitors from Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte: Marya Soaps and Scents Online Shop, Midsalip Farmer’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Mifamco), Aljannjoss, Lianas’s Food Products Manufacturing, Sindangan Facoma Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Piñan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Pimco), Aseniero International Trading, and Gasa Food Products Manufacturing.

One of the exhibitors, Jossier Hassan of Aljannjoss, mentioned how grateful they are with DTI and SM for giving them the opportunity to promote and sell their products which were processed locally.

“This is our way of showcasing the region's best chocolates with innovative exhibitors offering not only insta-worthy treat but also those which take one a joyful chocolate experience,” Aileen Ann Villa-Enriquez,” SM City Mindpro’s assistant mall manager, said.

Enriquez said that the fair is also SM’s way of supporting local producers and processors, as well as entrepreneurs and see the industry develop as they continuously push its potential.

The Chocolate Festival is an annual celebration participated across all SM Supermalls in Mindanao.

Enriquez called on the public to visit the fair at the ground level of SM City Mindpro to enjoy the chocolatey experience and support the local and regional products.

Aside from Enriquez, the opening ceremony of the festival was graced by Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, DTI Provincial Director Grace Aduca, Philippine Information Agency Regional Director Noemi Edaga, and City Information Officer Belen Sheila Covarrubias. (SunStar Zamboanga)