MANILA – The town of San Fernando in Camarines Sur is eager to position itself as the main player in the cacao industry in Bicol Region, eyeing on turning the municipality as a self-sufficient producer of chocolates and cacao-based products.
On Wednesday, Mayor Fermin Mabulo discussed that they are encouraging more farmers to do so since it can also be an opportunity to turn farmlands into agro-tourism sites.
“Kami po ay nagpapatanim ng mga maraming puno ng cacao dahil ang pangarap namin na ang bayan ng San Fernando ay maging parang Napa Valley ng California or Hunter Valley ng Australia, na kung saan yung mga individual farms ay gumagawa ng, sa kanila ay wine, sa atin ay premium fine chocolates na dito lang matatagpuan at dadayuhin [We are planting more cacao trees because our ambition for San Fernando is to become one like the Napa Valley in California or Hunter Valley in Australia, where individual farms can process their produce. For these valleys, they have wine. Ours will be premium fine chocolates],” he said during the Network Briefing News with host Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar.
Mayor Mabulo explained that cacao trees have been resilient during the onslaught of typhoons. It continued to thrive and recover quickly compared to other crops available in their municipality.
“Nakita po natin na ‘yung resiliency ng mga cacao, parehas po ng resiliency ng mga Bicolano. Kaya ‘yun po ‘yung pino-promote namin [We saw that the resiliency of the cacao is the same as the resiliency of the Bicolanos. So that’s what we’re promoting],” he added.
The local government of San Fernando has established a model farm in one of its barangays with the support of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
The local chief executive noted that this will also serve as a training center for their local farmers and others in the neighboring municipalities to further improve the quality and value of their products through new agricultural technologies.
He said that encouraging more farmers to engage in the industry will increase the sustainability of the production volume needed to supply to partner buyers, especially in the international market where demands are high.
“Ang kailangan natin sa cacao ay economy and scale. Mas mataas ang presyo kapag mas marami. Halimbawa, mag-aalok ka ng fermented beans sa ibang lugar sa mga chocolate regions like Belgium, Switzerland, US, and UK, tatanungin ka kung sustainable [What we need for the cacao industry are economy and scale. Higher incomes are expected for bigger volumes. For example, when you offer fermented beans in other places like the chocolate regions in Belgium, Switzerland, the US, and the UK, they will first ask you about sustainability],” he said.
“In-encourage natin yung mga tao na magtanim ng cacao. High value crops po ito, mas malaki po ang kikitain ng farmers [We encourage others to cultivate cacao also. This is a high value crop so farmers potentially have higher income from this],” he added. (PCOO)