Even with smaller contributions to the country's cacao industry in comparison to other regions, the Regional Cacao Council (RCC) of Cagayan Valley is proud of the uniqueness of the cacao that the Region 2 produces. The region is comprised of the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Batanes island.
To strengthen the industry in the Cagayan Valley region, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) held a two-day workshop to craft the Cacao Roadmap Localization (CRL). This workshop aimed to develop strategies applicable to cacao farming. In partnership with the RRC, local government units, state colleges and universities, and nursery operators, the workshop happened at the DA Northern Cagayan Experiment Station in Lucban village, Abulug Town last December 7-8.
Robert Olinares of DA-Cagayan Valley, said that the workshop has set the annual production target of 2,000 metric tons of fermented and dried cacao beans from 2018 to 2022. Olinares is the technical director for Operations and Extension, and also the coordinator for the high value crops development program.
The workshop also enabled the attendees to come up with increasing harvests by up to two kilograms per tree by rehabilitating old cacao trees.
The region is gearing up towards making its cacao production internationally competitive. Globally, the demand for cacao has increased, in part due to the growing awareness of the health benefits of cacao and chocolate, and also to the developing variety of possible applications of the product not just in food and beverage, but also in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
With the current global demand for cacao, the growers of Cagayan Valley region, who have been making cacao and chocolate products, aim to further improve the production quality of its products to be at par with the internationally traded ones.
An agency under the DA called Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) launched several cacao-based products to open up more possibilities for the growers and manufacturers. Products such as wine, vinegar, soft drinks and even fuel can be sourced from cacao, according to PhilMech.
Since about 70 to 75 percent of the cacao pods is made of the husk that are usually discarded, the agency is also studying the possibility of making butanol, a component of aviation fuel, from this cacao waste. If feasible, PhilMech will then consult with the expertise of the Department of Energy regarding commercial production of cacao-sourced butanol.