Cocoa potential export winner

THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) said that cocoa, the main ingredient for chocolate products and other confectionaries, could be another “export winner” for the Philippines if farmers are provided with the proper postharvest technologies.

According to Dr. Romualdo Martinez, Chief Science Research Specialist  of PhilMech, said the general lack of postharvest knowledge and proper equipment among farmers cultivating the crop is a factor as to why the Philippines could not export large quantities of cocoa.

“Cocoa bean is a major agricultural commodity traded worldwide. In 2011, the world produced around 4.25 million tons. About 74.8% of production came from Africa, with Ivory Coast producing around 1.511 million tons and Ghana about 1.025 million tons. Asia contributed around 12.5%, the bulk of which came from Indonesia,” Dr. Martinez added.

He added that Indonesia exported 440,000 tons of cocoa beans in 2011 while the Philippines shipped a measly 250 tons in 2010.

PhilMech Applied Communication Division head Dr. Rodolfo Estigoy said that the agency’s findings will be immediately disseminated to cocoa farmers so that their old postharvest practices will be changed.

“PhilMech’s addressing the critical issue of drying can make cocoa bean a viable and profitable export commodity for the Philippines. And since there is growing interest in growing more cocoa, it is but timely that PhilMech addressed the postharvest issues related to cocoa,” he said.

The findings of PhilMech showed that cocoa beans that were fermented before drying fetched higher prices.

“Traditionally, cocoa beans are dried without undergoing fermentation. However, fermentation has now become a standard process for producing good quality beans.

The world market price of unfermented cocoa beans is about 20% lower,” Dr. Martinez said.

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