TWO cooperatives in Davao Region have received cacao post-harvest and biomass production facilities to boost farmers’ income from the high-value crop that is being developed as a major export commodity.

In Davao Occidental, the Southern Davao Multipurpose Cooperative was recently given P3.9-million worth of facilities forcacao drying, storage, and fermentation, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office.

“DA recognizes the importance of cacao as a driver of rural development because of its potential as a raw material that can increase the country’s export earnings,” DA-Davao Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations Andres L. Alemania said in a statement.

In Davao City’s Baguio District, the Fardeco Agricultural Multi-purpose Cooperative will be granted equipment and skills training for the production of briquettes from cacao pod husk and other biomass wastes.

Fardeco signed earlier this month an agreement with the DA’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) for the project, which will be a pilot initiative for the biomass technology.

PHilMech will provide the cooperative a package of equipment composed of briquetting machine, carbonizer, shredder, hammer mill and mixer to produce briquettes from cacao pod husk.

Fardeco was also a beneficiary of the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which combined farming and forest tree planting for a sustainable livelihood and conservation program.

The cacao briquettes are eyed as an alternative to wood charcoal, which is still widely used for cooking in rural areas.

The DENR-Davao regional office said the project is also part of the government’s coronavirus pandemic response measures to help farmers have additional income sources and food security.

Davao Region, declared as the Philippines’ cacao capital, produced 2,490 metric tons of cacao dried beans with pulp in the last quarter 2021.

This accounts for or 81% of the country’s total output of 3,080 metric tons, which is 11.4% higher than in the same quarter the previous year. MSJ