Council wants inclusion of cacao development in K to 12 program

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Sept) — The Philippine National Cacao Industry Council is pushing for the inclusion of cacao development in the K to 12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd) in senior high school to encourage students to pursue farming amid the dwindling population of farmers in the country.

“We start them young,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 11 assistant regional director Edwin Banquerigo said.

Banquerigo, a member of the secretariat of the Philippine National Cacao Industry Council, said in an interivew on Thursday that they will formally turn over the curriculum guide and learning materials to the Bureau of Curriculum Development of DepEd during the two-day “Kakao Konek” on October 18 to 20, 2018 at the Davao Convention Center here.

Drying cacao beans in Tugbok District, Davao city. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

He said they hope to see cacao production and processing included in the K to 12 program to educate senior high school students on the opportunities awaiting them in the industry.

Banquerigo explained that integrating cacao industry development in the Kto12 program would encourage farming among the youth by providing them the technology. He said it would also allow students to “start their own business in cacao.”

He said the council hopes to see more graduates go into farming as agriculture-related courses in the country are becoming unpopular.

Banquerigo said it would be a “breakthrough” if the plan would push through, noting that the average age of a Filipino farmer  is 57.

At present, 25,000 farmers are engaged in cacao production.

Massive efforts to revitalize the cacao industry resulted in 64,693 hectares more planted to cacao seedlings in the last five years, nearly half or 29,000 hectares of which are in Davao Region, the country’s “chocolate capital.”

More trees are expected to bear fruits in two years, increasing the productivity level of the industry, he said.

He said the industry offers tremendous opportunities to farmers with cacao as the third most traded commodity in the world next to fuel and coffee.

Banquerigo said American consumers spent $22 billion on chocolates while annual consumption was averaging at 5.5 kilograms in 2017.

The council encourages farmers to produce fine flavor cacao through value adding and transitioning into farmer-processor instead of just selling their beans to the market.

He said a farmer earns only about 38% for every 1 kilo of tablea sold in the market while the rest goes to the processors. But their profit share would go up to 67% if farmers embark on cacao processing, he said.

Banquerigo named the emerging cacao processors in the country that are earning global recognition for the premium quality chocolates – Malagos Chocolate and MS3 Agri-Ventures in Davao City, Theo & Philo Artisan, and Auro Chocolates.

The international awards won by Filipino chocolate processors were Salon du Chocolat 2017, Paris; Cacao Excellence Awards; Salon du Chocolate 2018, Hongkong; Academy of Chocolate; CAFÉ RES 2018, Tokyo, Japan; Great Taste; IFEX, Madrid Fusion, SIAL; and Asia Pacific Competition. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews