By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is doubling its efforts to boost the coffee and cacao industry in Iloilo.
According to Esterlita Baddong, Supervising Trade and Industry Development Specialist and chief of the Industry Development Division, they are now focusing on the coffee and cacao industry in Iloilo through its industry cluster enhancement program.
“The coffee and the cacao are among the seven industries that we are assisting in our project, industry cluster enhancement program. Currently, we are assisting the industries of cacao, coffee, coco paste products, processed fruits and nuts, housewares and wearables, and information communication technology (ICT),” she said.
Baddong said that they are developing cacao in the areas of Dingle, Pototan, San Enrique, Passi City, New Lucena, Cabatuan, and Miag-ao.
“Last year, we provided a cacao shared facility (SSF) in Dingle because they have planted 80 hectares of cacao. There is one enterprise in Dingle that is not only processing tablea but also chocolate truffles and chocolate bars, but we need to help them in terms of technology,” she said.
Considering the huge market not only in the Philippines but also abroad, Baddong emphasized the need to level up the cacao industry in Iloilo.
“Right now, we are levelling up because cacao has a big market not only in the Philippines but also abroad. Damo na subong sugar planters who converted their farms to cacao.
For coffee, Baddong said the areas that are being developed are in the towns of Barotac Viejo, San Enrique, Calinog, Lambunao, and Leon.
With the popularity of coffee shops, there is a huge potential for the coffee industry even in the local market, according to Baddong.
“Sa coffee, more towns in Iloilo are planting coffee because dako naman ang potential for growth sa coffee maskin sa local market. We also have many local coffee shops that we are assisting and pati man sila gareklamo because sa iban pa sila nga lugar nagakuha sang source,” she said.
To assist the farmers and entrepreneurs, Baddong said that they are currently implementing shared service facility projects among the local government units (LGUs).
“The SSF projects are being given to certain groups or LGU where there are potential industries in their locality to improve and enhance their productivity. At present, we have 16 SSFs in the province of Iloilo, we will still be establishing two more for this year,” she said.
There are also competitions that are being held to showcase the products of the farmers to encourage them to do better, she added.
Baddong lamented that the mindset of the farmers continues to be a challenge especially in developing quality products.
“There are also challenges that we also face kay ang aton farmers they resist our new technology, nag-resist man sila tudluan. It’s really sa farmers nga attitude nga ga-affect man because we have a lot of potential in terms of coffee and cacao,” she said.
Concurrent DTI-Iloilo Provincial Director Ermelinda Pollentes hopes that through the projects of their department, they can more or less improve the mindset of the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) and even farmers.