No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

A change of heart toward a man's passion for cacao farming, production

Mcville Fajamolin never imagined that he would venture into the cacao industry. He thought that he would remain a nurse in Saudi Arabia for a longer period. However, his early exposure to agriculture, due to his father, led him to continue his father's legacy. 

"My father was the farmer in our family. He used to plant rice, corn, banana, and coconut. Later on, he tried his hand at cacao farming," says Mcville.

Diony Fajamolin, the patriarch, was aware that the crops they were growing were simply "cash crops"—crops that could be easily sold for quick income. However, his interest in cacao farming and production led him to pursue it, believing that it would provide them with greater opportunities.

"My father had a solid understanding of the fundamentals of farming. However, his vision for cacao farming extended far beyond simply selling its beans. He aspired to become one of the best cacao processors in Sarangani," Mcville recalls

His father became determined to expand his knowledge of cacao farming. He traveled to the Municipality of Tupi to participate in a cacao training program, where he studied the benefits of intercropping. In 2016, he planted 4,000 cacao seedlings, which eventually bore fruit in 2019.

Since the price of cacao was not sufficient, his father decided to venture into cacao value-added products. He established a brand for their cacao production called Diomrie Farm, named after himself and his wife. They started by producing tsokolate tablea (chocolate tablets) products, and as their business grew, they expanded their product lines to offer a wider variety of chocolate treats.

Initially, there were many trials and errors in the processing, but over time, their methods improved. Their chocolate shop is located in Barangay Sison, Maitum, Sarangani Province.

While working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, the younger Fajamolin invested in machinery for cacao processing. He purchased the equipment from India, where it was available at a lower cost, and had it shipped to the Philippines.

"Initially, I had no interest in venturing into the cacao industry. However, after seeing my father's passion for it, I decided to support him. To my surprise, I found myself managing our cacao production."

In 2021, due to his father's health condition, Mcville returned to Maitum at his father's request. His father had assured him that there was a promising future in cacao processing and that the industry would provide him with many opportunities for growth and success.

After his father passed away, Mcville assumed the responsibility for the family business. Initially, he was skeptical about the cacao market and doubted its consistency. However, as he took over the operations, he began to see its enormous potential and realized that there were many potential business partners interested in working with him.

Like many entrepreneurs, Mcville faces challenges in managing his business. For example, he had no prior knowledge of business, as it was not his area of expertise. Determined to succeed, he participated in various seminars and training programs to expand his knowledge and skills in the field.

He actively participates in various trade exhibits and expositions to increase brand awareness and marketability for their products. These events also provide valuable networking opportunities to connect with other industry professionals.

Mcville was a recipient of various government programs, including the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Kapatid Mentor Me program. Through this program, he gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the different aspects of business operations.

"I am still learning about the business and will continue to seek assistance to improve our cacao farming and processing operations," he says.

Through a partnership with DTI Sarangani, Mcville entered into a Commercial Partnership Agreement (CPA) with several cacao farmers' associations in the Municipality of Maasim, Kiamba, and Maitum (MAKIMA). This partnership was established as a means of supporting local cacao growers in Sarangani Province.

Despite the partnership, Mcville acknowledges that there is still a shortage of raw materials for cacao production. Many cacao farmers lack the knowledge and expertise required for the proper care and maintenance of the crop.

"Many cacao farmers do not realize the high value of their cacao plants. Some have even chosen to cut them down, believing that they are no longer productive, and replace them with other crops such as bananas. Most of these farmers lack knowledge of the proper care and maintenance required for cacao farming. I want to reignite their passion for this industry."

According to him, many farmers believe that their cacao plants are no longer productive due to problems at the farm level. For example, some cacao farms are affected by black pod rot, a disease caused by the fungus Phytophthora. This disease is responsible for significant production losses in cacao and spreads rapidly under conditions of excessive rain, humidity, insufficient sunshine, and temperatures below 21°C (70°F).

Symptoms include necrotic lesions on the cocoa pods that are brown or black in color and eventually enlarge to cover the entire pod. To control the disease, timely treatment with copper-containing fungicides and constant removal of infected pods is needed.

Mcville believes that many cacao farmers lack the knowledge and training necessary for the proper care and maintenance of their farms. He suggests that they participate in training programs to learn about cacao industry standards, like the proper fermentation method.

Additionally, he recommends conducting dialogues among cacao farmers, producers, the local government, and relevant agencies to address the challenges facing the local cacao industry. 

Cacao is considered a high-value crop that can be processed into a wide range of products, including chocolate, chocolate powder, and tablea. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Davao Region is the leading producer of cacao in the Philippines, accounting for 80.6% of the country's total cacao production in 2021. 

Also under Republic Act No. 11547, enacted on May 27, 2021, Davao City is officially the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines, while the entirety of Davao Region is the Cacao Capital of the Philippines.

The Philippines has been recognized as an ideal location for cacao cultivation due to its favorable soil composition and climate conditions.

To comply with industry standards, Mcville is currently working on obtaining FDA certification for its cacao processing operations. This certification will ensure that their products meet the necessary safety and quality standards. 

"If your only goal is to earn an income without having a passion for the work, you are unlikely to achieve true success. I eventually fell in love with cacao production and became deeply invested in the business," he says.

"At first, it was hard to believe that we could produce chocolate in Maitum. But now I have a vision of Sarangani becoming one of the top cacao-producing provinces in the country." (Genory Vanz Alfasain/Voice of the Youth Network)

About the Author

Harlem Jude Ferolino

Job Order

Region 12

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch