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Fermenting cacao beans is a must to produce high quality chocolate.

This was emphasized by Dr. Smilja Lambert, a research manager of Mars, Inc., the leading global chocolate manufacturer. Dr. Lambert was one of the resource persons who spoke at the recent Southern Mindanao Cocoa Market Development Forum in Davao City.


The forum was under the auspices of SUCCESS (Sustainable Cocoa Enterprise Solutions for Smallholders) Alliance - Philippines Phase II. This is the second phase of the program aimed at increasing cacao production in the Philippines which is financed by the US Department of Agriculture and implemented by the ACDI/VOCA, a non-profit organization, in partnership with the Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines.
Dr. Lambert emphasized that assuring the good quality of the beans by fermenting will result in a competitive advantage for producers. "There is no chocolate if there is no fermentation done on the cocoa beans," she pointed out.
The forum was attended by about 60 participants coming from the cocoa smallholder farmer sector, LGU representatives, business sector representatives, USDA and SUCCESS Alliance II partners.

Peter van Grinsven, Cocoa Sustainability Field Research Manager of Mars, Inc., on the other hand, challenged the participants to explore the wide market of cocoa beans in China, Japan, the United States and Europe. "Cocoa is a worldwide commodity and the demand for cocoa is always growing. The market for cocoa beans has never been a problem, he told the participants.
Nicholas Richards, head of party of SUCCESS Alliance II Program, said that the second phase started in October 2006 and will run through 2009. He said that the program will continue to expand upon achievements of Phase I by focusing on improved cocoa production and marketing linkages.

He adds that Phase II will train 150 training facilitators (TFs) and 15,000 small farm holders in cocoa production, post-harvest processing, pest and disease management and marketing through the farmer field school (FFS) methodology and participatory extension methods. It will ensure the participation of women as trainers, nursery operators and farmers.

The program will establish 30 cocoa fermentation and drying centers, produce and distribute 1.2 million seedlings (for farmers participating in the FFS) at 100 nurseries, rehabilitate 400,000 cacao trees through pest management and side-grafting, and establish government-endorsed quality standards for Philippine cocoa.
The program is currently implemented in North and South Luzon, Panay, Palawan, Western Mindanao and Davao.
A forum on the Southern Mindanao Cocoa Market Development was held recently in Davao City as part of the activities in connection with Phase II of SUCCESS Alliance. This is a three-year (2007 to 2009) agri-enterprise development program for promoting the cocoa industry in various suitable parts of the country. It is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is being implemented by ACDI/VOCA, a private non-profit organization, in partnership with the Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. The forum updated the project stakeholders on the cocoa market situation in Mindanao and collected feedback on the relevant issues and problems on cocoa marketing.
Source: Manila Bulletin Online, Zac Sarian, 24 Nov 2007


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