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Boosting the cacao industry in Cordillera supported by DOST under the WHWISE program

Benguet’s homegrown Dulche chocolates was named as one of the best dark chocolates in the Philippines during the Kakao Konek’s Chocolate Expo in Davao City in 2019.

Owned by Eva Ritchelle Padua, Dulche Chocolates Inc. is now assisting cacao farmers boost the cacao industry in Cordillera through the Women-Helping-Women: Innovating Social Enterprises (WHWISE) program.

The WHWise Program is a grant that provides gender-focused support to women-led social enterprises, namely funding up to P5 million and activities like incubation, mentoring, business support program, capacity building, fabrication support, and marketing and market validation funded by the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

The WHWISE’s aim is to expand opportunities for the cacao industry in Cordillera by boosting production, providing the needs for the cacao farmers and more.

Dulche Chocolates was approved for the WHWISE program in 2022, and in March 2023 it launched the P5 million project’s implementation.

During the Usapang PIA(Philippine Information Agency)  last March 14, 2024, Padua stated that the enterprise aimed to train 200 cacao producers and produce at least 10 cacao processors under the program.

“Ti target tayo kuma ket we will be able to train 200 cacao farmers but then as of the moment, adda ti 453 cacao farmers nga nasuruan tayo iti cacao farm management and 34 cacao farmers on post-harvest, and ti met nag-training from post-harvest to tablea and chocolate-making ket 42,” Padua said.

Padua revealed that farmers frequently inquire about their trees’ low production whenever they talk about tablea processing. According to Padua, they started by teaching cacao farmers in Benguet how to grow chocolate properly and then spread to neighboring provinces.

“Maragsakan kami unay ta gapu iti daytoy a fund ti DOST-PCIEERD, haan laeng nga Benguet iti natulungan tayo ngem even iti other provinces. Iti amin a provinces iti Cordillera ket napanan tayo,” Padua added. | Taha, Anas Abdelrahim

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