DAVAO CITY — The Cacao City Marketing Cooperative, a group of farmers and processors, said is developing products apart from chocolates to boost Davao City’s standing as the country’s cacao capital.

“I think there is so much potential with cacao beyond chocolate… Everyone associates the bean as chocolate, but we have so many things that we can create,” Lizabel G. Holganza, one of the cooperative’s founding members, told Businessworld at the Mindanao Trade Expo (MTE).

Ms. Holganza said aside from snacks like cacao granola and tablea for making chocolate drink, some of their members have been using cacao husks to make tea, and the leaves for notebooks, paper and lamps.

The cooperative is currently working with the Department of Science and Technology to produce wallpaper, chair covers, and furniture, which involves mixing plastic with cacao leaves.

Ms. Holganza said while the industry works towards expanding the area planted to cacao, there should also be a parallel initiative to grow the value-adding side.

“It’s the challenge, kailangan palaguin pa talaga (we do still need to expand) and continue promoting the propagation and the farming side of it. But in the meantime, value adding is slowly catching up,” she said.

During the MTE, Cacao City partnered with the Institute of International Culinary and Hospitality Entrepreneurship (ICHEF) for a cacao dessert baking competition.

Ms. Holganza said such activities aim to increase awareness, particularly among domestic consumers, to patronize Davao-produced cacao and chocolates.

Ang ganda-ganda ng quality ng products natin, gamitin natin (We really have good quality products, let’s use them). Lets not buy fake chocolate, lets not buy products that came from across the globe because we know the environmental impact and the carbon footprint of all these products,” she said. — Maya M. Padillo