POST-HARVEST FACILITY. This solar dryer unit is part of the PHP3.9 million post-harvest facility donated by the Department of Agriculture in the Davao Region (DA-11) to the Southern Davao Multipurpose Cooperative (SDMC) in Sta. Maria, Davao Occidental on Monday (May 16, 2022). The donation also includes a cacao storage building and a cacao fermentation facility. (Photo courtesy of DA-11)

DAVAO CITY – The Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) through its High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) has provided a farmers' group in the Davao Occidental town of Sta. Maria with PHP3.9 million worth of post-harvest processing facilities.

In an interview Wednesday, Rubylyn Gomez, the DA-HVCDP coordinator, said the facility was awarded to the Southern Davao Multipurpose Cooperative (SDMC).

The facilities include a cacao storage building worth PHP1.99 million; a cacao fermentation facility (PHP1.38 million); and a cacao solar dryer (PHP594,694).

"They can now cater more wet beans from the members and non-members nearby which needs consolidation. It will also increase the volume of their produce," Gomez said.

Recipient farmers can now produce quality fermented dried beans and can store more beans through the storage building, she said.

During Monday’s turnover of the provision, Andres Alemania, the DA-11 technical director for research and regulations, urged the SDMC to take care of its facilities and utilize its full potential to produce world-class chocolates.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law declaring the Davao City as the “Chocolate Capital of the Philippines”, and the entire Davao Region (Region 11) as the “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.”

Republic Act 115471, signed by Duterte 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 tremendously. (PNA)