Tanay, Rizal couple helps fellow farmers in cacao growing

A couple in Tanay, Rizal are helping their fellow farmers in
their livelihood in cacao production, not only for the benefit of the growers and their dependents but also to help propagate the industry in the region.

Mr. and Mrs. Romeo and Nancy Casco, owners of RNC Farm, are
also advocating for the sustained growth of cacao farming in the province.

The Casco couple, both retired employees, told Manila Bulletin that their vision is to see their fellow cacao farmers become successful in their livelihood and that the town and the province be known in the cacao industry.

The couple started their luck in the cacao industry in 2017 with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Their farm, which has other fruit-bearing trees, is located at Sitio Sampiro, Barangay Plaza Aldea in Tanay.

Casco couple.jpg (The Casco couple during a Kadiwa exhibit in Rizal Province)

Romeo said the DA, through its Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (APCO), first provided them training before they were given free cacao seedlings and fertilizers.

Nancy, who is the president of Rizal Cacao Growers Industry Development Council and the Cacao Growers Association of Tanay, said when they were just starting, there were 67 association members who all have gone through the series of trainings and assistance given by the DA. At present, there are only six active member associations in the province.

The couple said the number one problem being faced by cacao growers in Tanay and in Rizal Province is the inability to provide their own equipment and machines for cacao production due to budget constraints.

They said the cacao beans, before it becomes cocoa, or the “tablea” which is the chocolate tablet that we see in supermarkets, must undergo a rigid process - from a week of fermentation to another week of drying, followed by sorting, roasting, dehulling and grinding of the beans for several hours.

Once grounded, the cocoa will turn into a paste-like consistency that should undergo continuous and non-stop refining for eight hours. The finished product, the “tablea”, is now ready for packing in an air-tight packaging to prevent moisture and other contaminants to come in.

The Casco couple said the very tedious process and the use of proper equipment that costs thousands of pesos make the production cost expensive for the ordinary farmers to meet and fulfill.

That is why, the couple is encouraging their fellow cacao farmers who are not able to follow the complete process due to budget reasons, to sell their cacao beans to RNC Farm instead. “By doing this, the farmers will have no reason to quit cacao farming because the burden of processing of the beans will be removed from them,” the couple said.

The Cascos are optimistic that with the help of all the cacao farmers and the government’s support to them, the cocoa industry in Tanay and other parts of the province will thrive and boom very soon.