Cacao farmers get P26-M project aid
DAVAO CITY—Some 500 cacao farmers here got an early Christmas present when the World Bank-funded Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) approved the release of a P26-million fund for enterprise development that aims to support them in cacao production and marketing.
Arnel De Mesa, PRDP national deputy project director, said in a statement the PRDP’s national project coordination office signaled the start of the project implementation on Dec. 9 by issuing a No Objection Letter (NOL).
The project, called Cacao Production and Marketing of Dry-Fermented Beans, will be implemented through a cluster-type operation by the Subasta Integrated Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (SIFMPC) as the lead proponent. It will be implemented in the areas of Marilog, Baguio, Calinan and Tugbok districts here.
SIFMPC would act as the main consolidator of 15 cooperatives and would benefit around 495 cacao farmers, De Mesa said.
“We are optimistic to jumpstart the first cacao production enterprise project of PRDP with the approval of the business plan of the SIFMPC,” he said.
De Mesa added that SIFMPC had complied with the project requirements, including enhancements to the business plan that would focus more on giving support to production for cacao farmers.
“PRDP’s main intervention is to provide support to production that will lessen the cacao farmer’s dependency to traders and consequently enhance their income,” he said.
The enterprise project was being funded under PRDP’s Investments for Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Productivity or I-REAP component. It was seen to strengthen existing marketing arrangements between SIFMPC and buyers like Coco Dolce and Filipinas Oro de Cacao for the local market and Askinosie for the export market.
Askinosie is a Missouri-based small batch bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer, which directly source all of its cocoa beans from the farmers. It was touted to pay above fair trade prices and engage its suppliers in net profit sharing.
De Mesa said PRDP would also assist the beneficiaries by providing postharvest facilities to ensure that their cacao production quality meets the required market standard. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao