Kabacan, North Cotabato – The Philippine Cacao Industry Association, Incorporated (PCIA Inc.) and the Philippine Cacao Industry Council (PCIC), both chaired by Consul Armi Lopez-Garcia, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Training Institute (DA-ATI), DA – Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and DA – High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), is currently conducting a Training of Trainers (TOT) on Cacao Fermentation, Drying, and Bean Grading.
The conduct of a TOT is one of the key recommendations raised during the recently held National Cacao Congress 2022, Strategic Planning and Workshop, and Consultative Cacao Island Congresses to mobilize all stakeholders and relevant government agencies to provide extensive support services for concerted industry-wide development efforts for the Philippine Cacao Industry. Estimated at 25% sufficiency level, it is evident that there is a huge demand-supply gap which opens opportunities for cacao production to support the needs of the populace. The conduct of the TOT aims to address this gap and provide trainers and farmers the capability to take advantage of the opportunities from high demand.
Through this TOT, a pool of trainers consisting of food technologists, food scientists, and agronomists with the technical background and qualifications will be fostered to train local cacao farmers on the ground to produce high-quality beans to achieve a globally competitive and sustainable Philippine cacao and chocolate industry that is built on a strong Philippine brand of cacao. The practices, techniques, and lectures acquired by the trainers in the TOT will equip them to properly train local cacao farmers to produce quality fermented cacao beans which command a higher selling price and to train farmers on the correct way of post-harvest processing, which is one of the identified priorities need of the sector. These will subsequently result in a better and more sustainable livelihood for the farmers.
The TOT is likewise expected to capacitate the trainers to pass on to the farmers the needed competence for them to meet international standards and to be able to compete and enter the global market. The TOT is one of the strategies to prepare our local farmers for the annual Philippine Cacao Quality Awards (PCQA), the entry point to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) which provides global recognition to producers of superior quality cocoa and celebrates and promotes quality and diversity through a culture of excellence in the cocoa sector.
The 10-day TOT which commenced on February 1, 2023 and will run until February 10, 2023, at the University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, North Cotabato is being facilitated by the PCIA Inc., the private sector arm of the PCIC. Mr. Steven Devries, a global expert, a renowned global trainer, a fine chocolate maker, and the owner of DeVries Chocolate, is training the participants composed of thirty-three (32) representatives from selected State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) nationwide.
In addition to the conduct of a TOT, and to ensure the proper implementation of the Philippine Cacao Industry Roadmap 2021-2025, PCIA Inc., in partnership with the above government units, plans to hold another Strategic Planning and Workshop to continually strategize the plans, activities, and programs for the cacao industry which are aligned with the development directions to strengthen, expand, and promote the industry.