A FARMERS’ cooperative called Malawanit Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative in Davao del Sur understands that a key to agricultural profitability is to engage in value-adding activity or manufacturing processes that increase the value of their produce.
With the help of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and other stakeholders, the cooperative was able to produce tablea; roasted, ground, and molded nibs of fermented pure cacao beans without added ingredients and additives, in 2016.
"Kining tablea mao ni among value-adding. Gikan ni sa mga tanom sa among mga miyembro rapud. Ang mga cacao seedlings pud hinatag sa DAR-MinSaad. Instead na amo lang ibaligya ang harvest, nag-value adding mi (This tablea is our value-adding initiative. Our supply is from our cooperative members from the seedlings distributed by the DAR-MinSaad. Instead of selling our harvest directly, we decided to value-add)," cooperative manager Bernandina Belotindos said in an interview with SunStar Davao.
"Permiro ani, nananom lang mi pero nakita namo nga daghan og mamalit og tablea so nasabutan namo nga maghimo og tablea (At first, we just plant cacao but when we saw that there are a lot of people who are looking for tablea, we started making our own)," she added.
The cooperative has a total of 210 hectares planted with cacao and coconut trees in Malawanit, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.
As of the moment, the cooperative is manually making tablea by thoroughly cleaning the harvested cacao beans and sun-drying it for two to three days. After drying the beans, it will be roasted, ground, then molded into blocks or discs.
Belotindos said the process takes a lot of time and effort as they do it manually, which limits them to produce more. They are waiting for the machineries and facilities that the government promised them to help them with their tablea business.
The market opportunities for tablea and cocoa products are growing. Belotindos said the business helped their members to alleviate from extreme poverty.
Last month, they were able to sell 65 dozens of tablea in Digos City and 100 dozens of tablea bound for Hong Kong. Some of their products are made-to-order while some are displayed at the Barangay Food Terminal in Davao del Sur.
Right now, the cooperative is still looking into other products to develop along with their tablea.