Saturday August 18, 2018

Supporting cacao processors

THE industry of cacao beans in Davao City has a huge potential on the domestic market and the City Agriculture’s Office (CAO) is currently putting efforts of support to the recently-formed Davao City Chocolate Processor Council (DCCPC) to answer to this domestic demand.

A cacao processor is someone who uses cacao beans to further make them into by-products such as tablea, cocoa powder, and nibs among others.

CAO Agriculturist Januario Bentain, who heads the cacao industry department of the office, said there are currently 75 registered cacao processors in the city. However, he believes that there are about 200 processors that are operating in the city but has yet to be members of the DCCPC.

“Now, when they are organized like that, our intervention is more efficient even for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements such as processing sanitation and good agricultural practices. It’s easier for us to communicate and help them with their concerns,” CAO head Leo Brian Leuterio said.

He also emphasized the current demand for cacao beans and by-products in other areas in the country and that this should be cultivated. He said when the Dabawenyo processors pass the domestic standards, it’s less work to pass the international standards as compared to going for the international market immediately.

“The bigger market is the domestic market, not the local market. For the international market, we will get there in the future. That’s a bigger project. But the domestic market, we believe, can support the demand and stabilize the price of cacao in the market,” he said.

In helping and reaching out to the DCCPC, CAO hopes to lessen the processors’ dilemma on the fluctuating price of cacao beans.

In an earlier interview, Pine Valley Farm proprietor and cacao plantation owner Delio Cesar said the primary reason he decided to plant cacaos was the attractive market price of the beans back then at P150 per kilo. Now, it’s only pegged at P80 to P90 per kilogram (kg).

As a means to help the processors, Bentain said they are conducting trainings which are designed to introduce to the processors the proper food safety standards and what the basic requirements are to get an FDA-certification. During the training, processors are also asked to identify their concerns in the industry and how they are best to be helped and assisted with it by the local government.

“After the trainings, we’re looking at how to assess and follow through. We can’t just train them and leave them at that. We’re looking into providing them with common-shared facilities, where we can install them so the members can DCCPC can all use. These facilities would include the roasters and grinding facilities. But all of these are just our plans that we see ideal form of assistance to them,” said Bentain.

Although there are similar facilities in local stores and marketplaces around the city, Bentain said these are substandard and would not pass with the FDA standard. “As Davao City pushes to be a chocolate capital of the Philippines, our standard of these things should be high,” said Leuterio.

Currently, there are 4,000 to 8,000 hectares of land in the entire Davao City that is used for cacao plantations.