Cacao smallholders in Davao Oriental (DA), Philippines, have organised to directly sell their produce to Kennemer Foods International, Inc. and Puentespina Farms.
According to the head of the Provincial Agriculture Office, Rotchie M. Ravelo, the cacao farmers hope to produce 227 metric tons of dried fermented cacao beans in the first year of their new direct-sale arrangement and increase it by 85% by the third year. Mr Ravelo said in a statement that this would also increase the farmers’ income by 37.17%.
The 924 farmers are beneficiaries of a 14.5 million (PHP) programme under the Philippine Rural Development Project’s (PRDP) Investment for Rural Enterprise for Agricultural Productivity. The programme is implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA), with funding from the local government and beneficiaries.
Under the plan, the farmers are getting post-harvest facilities along with production and marketing support. The first group of facilities and equipment included a solar tunnel drier, fermentation facility, storage, cargo truck, weighing scale, and a moisture meter.
Mr Ravelo explains that the project intends to produce fermented, dried beans that attract a higher price by moving them up the value chain. The fermentation facility will lessen the beans’ impurities and bring out the unique and most desirable flavours of their local variety of beans.
The individual taste profile of cacao grown in a specific region and processed consistently is something, which chocolate manufacturers look for when choosing a supplier.
DA-Davao Regional Director Ricardo M. Oñate believes that, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there is a free and determined market for the cacao beans.
He added that the province now has a local market as consumers become more aware. The DA expects to secure export markets for cacao beans, and based on this belief is willing to invest in enhancing production and improving their marketing strategies.