LEGAZPI CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) in Bicol, has turned over the PHP2 million worth of cacao processing facility to the Binanuahan Farmers Community Develoment Association (BFCDA) in Pili town in Camarines Sur.
BFCDA president Edison Petallo said the establishment of cacao processing facility is a “long awaited dream”, noting the association could now apply for license to operate and product registration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“This is a dream come true!,” he said in an interview on Thursday.
Petallo said BFCDA has been processing cacao food products in the individual households of the members since 2013.
He noted they are now processing 40 kilos cacao beans produced into different food products such as tablea de cacao, tablea candy, tablea in muscovado, chocolabat, choco-meric (chocolate-turmeric) ice cream and empanaditas de cacao.
Petallo added the association also produces other food products which are being sold in Pasalubong Centers in Pili and Naga City.
The BFCDA, an agrarian reform beneficiary organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, currently has 103 members coming from the 11 barangays of Pili.
Regional HVCDP coordinator Rosita Imperial said the cacao processing facility, a first in Camarines Sur, is equipped with cacao roaster, grinder, pulverizer and vacuum sealer.
Imperial said fermentation boxes would also be provided to produce quality fermented cacao beans to improve the quality of dark chocolate or tablea.
The facility will ferment dried cacao beans for only five days that will increase their selling price from PHP30 to PHP150 per kilo.
A multi-commodity solar dryer would also be established adjacent to the cacao processing facility, she added.
Emily Bordado, DA regional information officer, said the department would also provide trainings on new technology in cacao processing for the association to create additional jobs and value-adding activities. (PNA)