Davao exports cacao to Europe

Subscribe Now May 27, 2013 at 08:38am

Chocolate de San Isidro, Inc. (CSI), which is 30 percent owned by farmers’ cooperatives based in Davao, is now exporting up to 300 metric tons of cacao beans annually to Netherlands and other European countries.

CSI has been recognized for its world class agricultural practice after obtaining certification from the Sustainable Agriculture Network Standard and Rainforest Alliance, a US-based certifier for environmental protection, social equity, and economic viability.

“We passed Rainforest Alliance’s (certification process) last year, and we’re the only cacao company certified by Rainforest (in the Philippines),” said Dante R. Muyco Jr. of CSI in an interview.

Aside from the Netherlands, the company’s other export destinations are Germany, Belgium, and recently, the Asian market through Malaysia.

While its export volume is just a very small fraction of the global demand of 80 million MT, this shows opportunities for Filipinos to reach the market. Export is also bringing higher income for farmers.

“(At one time) the price of cacao was only around P40 to P50 per kilo. When we started exporting in 2008, we were buying it from farmers at P70 per kilo,” said Muyco.

CSI emerged in 2004 when the local government of San Isidro town and the Department of Trade and Industry made cacao a (One Town One Product) in Davao. This enabled San Isidro to enjoy production and marketing support from the local government.

“We pulled in all the resources together with the farmers, individual investors in San Isidro, traders, all players in value chain,” he said.

It has around 500 farmer-members which come from six farmers’ cooperatives originating in Sawata, Mamangan, Dacudao, Igangon, and San Miguel.

Eighty percent of CSI’s tablea (pure cacao beans that are dried, roasted and shaped as desired) goes to Manila. It is used by restaurants, hotels, and food processors. Its total production of tablea is 8,000 to 10,000 MT yearly.

Since tablea is already in processed form and commands a higher price in the market, it aims to produce more tablea in the future.

“There’s a good market for tablea even in the local market. It has a higher value added, so earning is higher. In the future, we would like to concentrate on producing more tablea,” he said.

To be able to tap more volume for tablea export, it has to improve on marketing the product and on packaging.

“We also need also to be more innovative on the other usage for tablea in other products. Before when you speak of tablea, it’s only for drinks. Now our clients are doing many products like chocolates for cakes and pastries,” he said.

The entire country should also have an identifiable brand name for all cacao producers, said Muyco.

CSI is a member of the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao (Cidami). For San Isidro, the target of Cidami is to expand area from 4000 hectares to 10,000 to 12,000 hectares in three years.

Most of its farmers are smallholders with only one to two hectare land per person. Investment cost per hectare is more or less P40,000. CSI is anticipating assistance from the Department of Agriculture on its expansion.

“More and more people are going into cacao production, not only in Mindanao but in Visayas and Luzon. The only thing we need to watch out for is the quality of the planting materials because that would greatly affect marketing of Philippine cacao,” he said.

The company’s brand name, “Sikwate” which is Visayan for chocolate drink, is marketed by CSI Trade Ventures which promotes Davao Region’s products to the local and export market. CSI Trade Ventures is also a major stakeholder in Chokolate de San Isidro, Inc. (CSI) and has invested in tablea production.

Source: mb.com.ph

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