TO ADDRESS the rising demand for quality cacao beans, being the primary raw materials for chocolates, the Department of Agriculture Central Visayas (DA 7) has encouraged more farmers and enthusiasts to plant more cacao.

DA 7 Regional Executive Director Joel Elumba urged cacao stakeholders in Central Visayas to engage more in cacao production and processing, saying that cacao is a promising commodity in the region.

According to the DA, the cacao industry has generated jobs and has taken part in achieving food sufficiency.

“The cacao industry is a big help to our local produce and also to our export products. The four provinces in our region have the potential areas for the development of cacao,” Elumba said in a statement.

DA 7 regional technical director Wilberto Castillo said the Cebu Cacao Industry Development Council Inc. (CCIDCI) has initiated programs that aim to raise awareness on the economic benefits of cacao farming and how it is supporting the production of premium cacao-based products such as tablea and chocolate.

Castillo said the DA, together with other government agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., needs the support of the council to support the needs of the cacao industry.

The DA is conducting accreditations for farmer cooperatives and associations and other civil society organizations so that interventions and assistance are properly provided to the intended beneficiaries in the industry.

Earlier, CCIDCI president, Honorary Consul of Russia Armi L. Garcia, said the World Chocolate Day-related celebrations in Cebu last July 7 were an opportunity to showcase what the Philippines could offer when it comes to cacao and chocolate making.

She said the Philippines has a “driving and strong chocolate industry,” and that Filipino chocolate makers will soon become big players in this business. (CSL, PR)