THE Cacao National Congress opens today, November 24 at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang Premier, Davao City until November 25.

With the theme “Cacao is Gold," the event will unite at least 70 exhibitors and 1,800 participants from all over the Philippines to discuss innovations and challenges in the country's cacao industry.

The exhibitors will also showcase their expertise, whether they are from the public or private sector, local government unit, or stakeholders involved in the cacao value chain, such as private cocoa producers, and cacao and chocolate processors.

In particular, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) under the Department of Agriculture will showcase the latest technologies for cacao growing, post-harvest, and making cacao products.

“Mayroon pa pala other products that we can get out of cacao from the sweatings. Iyon and tumutulo kapag kinuha mo and seeds from the pod at kapag kinuha mo iyon, makakagawa ng (There are still a lot we can make out of cacao from its sweatings. That is the liquid dripping from the seeds when we take it from the pod. If harvested, it can make) softdrinks, wine, vinegar, alcohol, etcetera,” said PhilMech spokesperson Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy on Tuesday, November 22.

Some of the objectives of the Cacao Congress are to ascertain the global and local supply, and market conditions; assess the suitability of cacao in different locations; and discuss upscaling strategies in line with suitability and sustainability.

“There will be a lot of exchange of ideas as to what is the best way to take care of our cacao trees, one of those is the launch of a guide for farmers and stakeholders who would like to go into cacao farming,” Charito Puentespina, founder of the Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation and member of the Philippine Cacao Indsutry Association Inc., said.

The Cacao Congress is also posed as the avenue to highlight the high-quality cacao and chocolate products from Davao Region in order to drum up more foreign investors since the Philippines has the potential to become Asia’s leader in cacao production.

At the same time, the National Cacao Congress will be the culmination of the Philippine Cacao Quality Awards 2022 wherein the Davao Region submitted entries with the top 10 best cacao beans from local farms.

The Philippine Cacao Industry Association, Inc., in partnership with the Philippine Cacao Industry Council, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Agriculture head the National Cacao Congress. ICM