LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – Cacao growers in the small town of Adams, Ilocos Norte are excited to unveil a new brand of locally-processed cacao food products as a shared service facility for cacao processing is now ready to roll.
Worth more than PHP1 million, the cacao processing facility is a dream come true for high value commercial crop farmers of Adams town as the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) granted their request to finance the facility with a counterpart of PHP200,000 from the Adams Cacao Growers and Processors Association Inc., mostly composed of women farmers from the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) community.
Among its 18 members, at least five of them have already received Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification from the Department of Agriculture–Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) in 2019. These are the Cardom’s Farm, Inuwayan Farm, Rona’s Farm, Yaoh’s Integrated Farm and Wilma’s Farm.
With a growing number of tourists visiting Adams amid the global pandemic, Carmelita Abnasan, owner of Cardom’s Farm, shared her excitement on Wednesday saying the processing facility is a big help for them to come up with quality food products such as dark chocolate or cacao tablea, among others.
At present, Abnasan has around 100 fruit-bearing cacao trees on her farm and she plans to plant more now that they have equipment to assist them in processing their harvest.
Included in the list of equipment that was turned over to the cacao growers and processors include: one unit of household type dehydrator, a roaster machine with gas tank, disk grinder, an automatic piston funnel with stand and air compressor, a vertical bond sealer, two units of display cabinet and chocolate melters, among others.
For her part, Vice Governor Cecilia Araneta-Marcos who served as keynote speaker during the launching of the cacao processing facility, assured her full support to the project.
“Thank you to the DTI for assisting the cacao growers of Adams. We, at the provincial government of Ilocos Norte are behind you to ensure the sustainability of the project, “the vice governor said as she challenged them to develop more chocolate products with a twist so that Adams will not only be known as a fruit wine capital but also as a chocolate factory, thereby uplifting the lives of the community in the area.
In the 80s, several cacao varieties were introduced into the rich soil of Adams, making Adams as the cacao capital of Ilocos Norte.
Based on DA record, Adams maintains around 5.10 hectares of cacao plantation, 343 of which are already bearing fruits while 5,183 are under vegetative stage. A cacao tree can yield around 1.5 to 2 kilos dried beans, according to farmers.
But with the farmers’ limited knowledge of cacao processing, their cacao beans are sold to traders at a very low price while some fruits are left rotten on the farm.
In 2018, the DTI-Ilocos Norte started to assist cacao growers in the area. The agency trained them on how to come up with value-adding products to increase their income.
Through the facility, more jobs are expected to be generated as the association plans to produce and process more cacao food products for the global market.