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The five main provincial cacao stakeholders’ groups in the region, to wit, Cavite Cacao Industry Council, Laguna Cacao Farmers’ Association, Batangas Cacao Growers’ Association, and Samahan sa Industriya ng Cacao na Pangkabuhayan (SICAP) of Quezon Province, attended the consultation meeting spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) CALABARZON High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) on May 2 – 3, 2019 at Days Hotel in Tagaytay City, Cavite.

The said meeting aimed to discuss and resolve issues surrounding the cacao industry in the region and possible ways to strengthen the same, and form the CALABARZON Cacao Stakeholders’ Association and the CALABARZON Cacao Industry Technical Working Group.

Engr. Redelliza A. Gruezo, Officer-In-Charge (OIC)-Chief of Operations Division and Regional Focal Person of HVCDP, said that the support of cacao stakeholders’ groups in the region is very significant to effectively implement the projects under HVCDP-Cacao, and in making sure that the interventions delivered by the DA are what they really need and will help boost their production and income.

Ms. Maria Ana S. Balmes presented the regional situation of cacao industry, while the provincial HVCDP coordinators from Offices of Provincial Agriculturist of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon, reported their cacao production and rehabilitation in their respective provinces.

After the open forum, an election of officers for the CALABARZON Cacao Stakeholders’ Association was held wherein the following officers were duly elected: President – Mr. Florencio Flores; Vice-President – Mr. Oliver John Gomez; Secretary – Mr. Manuel Lagra; Treasurer – Mr. Marlon Manalo; and Auditor – Mr. Reynante Rozul.

The unified regional cacao stakeholders’ association was formed to serve as a venue for private stakeholders to converge and discuss issues and solutions affecting the cacao industry in CALABARZON. They will spearhead the development of cacao industry in the region engaging aggressively in different projects and activities independently or in collaboration with the government.

For the DA, our farmers are not only its main stakeholders rather partners in strengthening the agri-sector in our country. Proof of this statement is the continuous engagement and cooperation of the government with the farmers through consultations, trainings, and delivery of various interventions. • RFL