The Women's Economic Empowerment Project conducted a Cacao Master’s Training on March 19-21, 2019 at JJs Seafood Village and Fort Justine Farm in Bohol. Participated by 26 micro entrepreneurs (20 females and 6 males) from Bohol and Cebu, this activity aimed to train women-cacao farmers on cacao production and harvest, crop establishment, crop and farm maintenance, soil and nutrient management, insect pests and disease management and control, and post-harvest protocols and practices.
Cacao production is encouraged because it promotes inclusive growth and poverty alleviation. There is an incessant global demand in cacao farming and production, which never went down but nearly tripled since the 1970s. Unlike the coconut oil that could be substituted by palm oil, olive oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil among others, cacao has no substitute. Due to its market driven capacity and sustainability on intercropping, cacao is considered as a good rehabilitation program. Moreover, the government has already signified support on its program implementation.
The first two days of the training was devoted on lecture regarding sustainability on cacao production and different types of cacao, as well as factors affecting cacao farming, costing and pricing. On the third day, the participants were given the chance to do actual farming from pruning, harvesting, pod breaking, fermentation and drying process.
“Cacao Master’s Training allowed us to choose the quality of cacao beans to have quality tablea or quality chocolate,” participant Gina Solis of Aurora Food Productions shared.
At the end of this intervention, it is hoped that the participants would develop a network among each other, especially those who were into cacao farming or post-production process (e.g. tablea/ chocolate making). It was like connecting the “farm to the bar.” It also served as an inspiration to start a cacao farm and to envision producing their own cacao products in Bohol and Cebu rather than depending on supply from other regions.
“We are commanded to be stewards of God’s creation so we need to renew our mind to create and innovate for better productivity, sustainability and profitability,” participant Gina Panio of GQ Cocoa Manufacturing noted.
This three-day training was organized by the Philippine Commission on Women together with the Department of Trade and Industry Region 7. The same training will be conducted by the First Consolidated Cooperative along Tañon Seaboards of Cebu City this June 2019 for their cooperative members.