What’s better than eating chocolates? Making money out of ‘nature’s brown gold’, of course

Let’s just call it your “cash cacao”. And in a nutshell (pun intended), we’re taking advantage of one of our most guilty pleasures, chocolates!

An event in Mati City, Davao Oriental, focusing on the economic opportunities presented by cacao, the raw material used to make chocolates, was held August 23 and 24.

Known as the Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA), the event provided technology, information, and knowledge on cacao production, aiming to inspire businesses that use its products, such as the cacao fermented beans and cacao tablea, for the interest of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The Davao City-based Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMAARRDEC) led the event.

Dubbed as “Wow! FIESTA Cacao sa Dabaw 2018,” the event also aimed to improve the visibility and marketability of technologies generated for cacao-based products by matching them with potential markets, processors, investors, and other local consumers.

Among those who attended were Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST) Vice President for Research Development and Extension Dr. Roy G. Ponce, who represented DOSCST President Dr. Edito B. Sumile; Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) OIC-Deputy Executive Director for Administration, Resource Management and Support Services, Dr. Melvin B. Carlos; PCAARRD Applied Communication Director Marita A. Carlos, and SMAARRDEC Consortium Director Danilo B. Pacoy, who represented Regional Research and Development Coordinating Council Chair (RRDCC) and University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) President, Dr. Lourdes C. Generalao.

Carlos formally opened the event, delivering the message of PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora.

“We hope that FIESTA can help in further strengthening Davao Region’s competitive advantage, particularly in cacao production. May this FIESTA be instrumental in the dissemination of R&D results from production to post-harvest processing, including promotion and marketing,” Ebora said in his message.

A media conference followed the opening ceremonies as well as a forum on selected topics on cacao. The forum tackled issues and concerns on production, such as the Science and Technology Community-based Farm (STCBF) on “improved integrated crop management practices for cacao rehabilitation in Mati City, Davao Oriental”; “cacao production protocol and crop maintenance”, and “growing cacao amidst climate change”.

For the commercialization and marketing side, the topics covered local and international marketing of cacao and price volatility.

A farm tour then followed at the Mayo & Macatora Organic Farm, an STCBF collaborator.

Displaying the spirit of public-private partnership and community involvement, the FIESTA involved college students in three-minute thesis pitching, poster making, and jar painting competitions. Meanwhile, tablea producers joined the local chocolate competition, the “Palamiay”.

Part of the FIESTA was an exhibit participated in by Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of Region 11, The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) of Region 11, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 11, University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin), DOST Region 11, Philippine Coconut Authority-Davao Research Center (PCA-DRC), Bureau of Plant Industry-Davao National Crop Research, Development and Production Support Center (BPI-DNCRDPSC), Davao del Norte State College (DNSC), Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST), USeP, Mining and Degraded Areas Rehabilitation Research Center (MDARRC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Compostela Valley State College (CVSC), Province of Davao Oriental, Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc (CIDAMi), Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST), USeP, and DOST-PCAARRD.

The DOST-PCAARRD booth at the FIESTA displayed the FIESTA concept, the Council’s frontline services, biological-based approaches for cacao pest management, and a video about the Cacao Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP). The booth also offered flyers on basic information on cacao, dubbed as “nature’s brown gold,” and cacao pest and disease management (DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).

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