Monday, October 3, 2022

Ilocos Norte IP Community To Produce More Chocolate Products

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Ilocos Norte IP Community To Produce More Chocolate Products

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An indigenous peoples (IPs) community in Adams, Ilocos Norte is eyeing to expand their existing cacao farms to plant more varieties and make more chocolate products.

From an existing 1,350 cacao trees, IP growers in the community are eyeing the development of at least 10 more hectares of cacao plantation as a start-up program to sustain a local chocolate factory in the area, Bielmaju Walley, a doctor and a high-value crop farmer and food processor, said on Thursday.

In the 1980s, several cacao varieties were introduced in Adams, making the municipality the cacao capital of Ilocos Norte.

Walley, who owns a small chocolate factory that produces chocolate bars, tablea, cacao wine, and chocomint drinks, is assisting the farmers in the municipality to achieve the goal of expanding and also shares her expertise in processing cacao food products.

There are at least 10 farmers in the village willing to expand their plantation out of the 18 active members of cacao growers and processors, Walley said.

More farmers are eager to plant other cacao varieties to sustain the demand for chocolates and other food products, she added.

“With a minimum harvest of 1 ton per hectare, we will be needing at least 10 hectares to sustain our supply,” Walley said as she reported that as of the moment, she has been reaching out to other towns and provinces that could deliver cacao beans for processing.

Creating and promoting locally-made chocolates and putting up stores for the products only started in September last year and increasing the production of cacao beans will provide jobs for the locals, she said.

More so as the Department of Trade and Industry recently unveiled a shared service facility for cacao processing, which is a dream come true for high-value commercial crop farmers in the area.

The DTI trained them on how to come up with value-adding products to increase their income.

Through the facility, more jobs are expected to be generated as the association plans to produce and process more cacao food products for the global market.

In support of the local livelihood of residents, non-government organizations such as the Philippine College of Physicians have been visiting Adams annually to plant fruit-bearing trees such as cacao and bugnay seedlings.

The Inuwayan Farm, owned and managed by the Walley family is also being proposed as an alternative learning site for interested farmers.

Its accreditation process is currently being reviewed by the Agricultural Training Institute. (PNA)

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