Tagum City — A fine or imprisonment awaits those caught cutting down cacao trees.
San Isidro, Davao del Norte mayor Tomas Abelita bared plans to impose such penalties, which counter the town’s efforts to protect their growing cacao industry.
In an interview with PIA, Abelita said he is in favor of the measure that the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) is coming up as this would preserve the industry that the municipal government is banking on to bring in economic benefits to its constituents.
According to Abelita, San Isidro has 5,000 hectares planted with cacao and not huge plantation types but parcels of small farms.
After it showcased the largest ‘tableya’ or semi-processed cocoa bar of 500 kilos during its first anniversary as a town, the municipal government passed a resolution identifying cacao as its one-town one-product (Otop).
Otop is a national government program to create economic activities, generating income and employment in the countryside. Its implementation is spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),
During an OTOP Convergence Forum held at Miko’s Brew in Tagum City, former municipal investment promotion officer Zuncio Sanchez in his presentation bared efforts of the municipal government of San Isidro to institutionalize the cacao industry in town.
The municipal government went into a series of multi-sectoral consultations at the grassroots level to hear comments and ideas especially of the farmers, making tableya a “community-driven product”.
“Without the participation of stakeholders, an OTOP product would go a natural death,” Sanchez said of cocoa industry of San Isidro.
Cacao farmers, traders, home-based cocoa liquor-makers together with the municipal government are now seriously getting into the world-class business of the industry as they have been forming the Chocolate’ de San Isidro (CSI), Inc.
Sanchez said CSI, Inc. has a put up capital of 300,000 pesos and an authorized capital of 4.8 million pesos. CSI, Inc. cocoa liquor can now be found sold in high-end outlets such as the Mall of Asia and even being served in Marriot Hotels.
Provincial director Nenita Nazareno of DTI-Davao del Norte bared moves of international chocolate trader, Tradin, to exclusively buy the cacao produce of San Isidro.
She also said that the British government is eyeing to infuse funds to the municipality of San Isidro to further develop its cacao farms if the town passes assessment standards of fair trade policies.
Created on June 2004, the four-year-old town is carved out from the municipalities of Kapalong and Asuncion and has 13 barangays, most of which are cacao producing areas. (PIA)