By Bernie cahiles-Magkilat
Cacao farmer members of the Bagobo Klata Indigenous People (IP) group are poised to soon participate in the cacao value chain of the Davao Region following the establishment of a cacao agri-business project that will boost their productivity.
The Aboitiz Group, through its social development arm Aboitiz Foundation, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Apo Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (AFAMULCO) in Barangay Wines, Baguio District, Davao City to educate the farmers on correct cacao farming methodologies and provide linkage to market and financing.
AFAMULCO farmer-members are mainly cacao and fruit farmers who earn by selling their fresh harvest to the local market. If successful, the project will enable them to earn more and reap additional production value by learning how to ferment, dry, and process cacao beans into tablea (chocolate tablets) and other products.
“Our dreams have come true. We are very thankful for this project. It has been our dream as farmers that we will no longer just sell wet cacao beans to traders. We want to process our own chocolates and to display our own products. This project will not only help our families but also the community, as many of us in our community have no work or are underemployed,” said AFAMULCO Chairman Lyndon Cayog in a local Visayan dialect.
This MOA was signed by Cayog and Maribeth L. Marasigan, Aboitiz Foundation First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Also present were AFAMULCO board members and representatives of Barangay Wines, the National Commission for Indigenous People, and Aboitiz business units Davao Light and Apo Agua.