January 30, 2018
Nearly 200 farmers in Davao are being eyed for technical assistance from a Japanese chocolate firm Dari-K in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Dari-K and JICA recently concluded a feasibility survey on promoting high-value cacao production in Mindanao as part of JICA's partnership program with Japanese SMEs that aim to address poverty challenges in partner countries.
"This cooperation will be helpful to us so we can develop know-how in value added cacao processing and encourage farmers to become entrepreneurs," said Alfonso Andoy, manager of the Biao Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (BARBCO) in Talandang, Davao City.
As part of the feasibility survey, Dari-K held a chocolate making seminar for the first time with local senior high school students of Talandang National High School and cacao farmers on processing high quality cacao beans into chocolates that can be sold locally.
Davao is the source of 80% of Philippine cacao exports and the lack of processing capabilities challenged farmers into developing cacao into premium products.
Dari-K CEO Keiichi Yoshino, a former stock broker in Japan before turning into a social entrepreneur, said they are looking into possible ventures to help increase the income of cacao farmers.
"The Philippine government is strongly supporting the cacao industry. We observed that there are very few processors in the Philippines and we wanted to build the capacity of local farmers in processing cacao that meet international standards and also for the local people to patronize their own local chocolates," Yoshino said.
Dari-K already did similar efforts in raising productivity of farmers in Indonesia and they are exploring same model to help Filipino farmers.
Already, cacao farm owners in Davao who attended Dari-K past seminars have explored manufacturing artisan chocolates for the local market. "The seminar reinforced our basic knowledge in chocolate making and introduced us to new techniques so we can create specialty chocolate products," said Judith Dubouzet, owner of Captain Du artisanal chocolates made from their cacao farm.
With the cooperation, agrarian reform communities like Talandang in Davao are eyeing into venturing into new chocolate products and making lives better for cacao farmers.
Students of Talandang National High School and cacao farmers attended for the first time a seminar on how to process cacao beans into chocolates
Dari-K CEO Keiichi Yoshino (in black) explores possible ventures to help increase income of cacao farmers