San Isidro and Its Chocolate Factory

Jul. 14, 2006

Davao del Norte town scores big with cacao — and dreams of having its own chocolate factory.

SAN ISIDRO, Davao del Norte — This two-year-old fifth-class municipality wants its cacao industry to make it big in the local and international markets.

We dream of having a chocolate factory in San Isidro, Mayor Tomas Abelita once said during the Asaean Tourism Forum held in Davao early this year.

He rubbed shoulders with ATF delegates in a dinner hosted by the provincial government of Davao del Norte. He offered visitors a cup of hot choco, hoping to lure investors interest to buy his towns cacao bean or its chocolate chunks locally known as tablea.

Abelitas dream is coming true.

Municipal Investment Promotion Officer Sonio Sanchez recently bared that local cacao traders, farmers and entrepreneurs together with a few well-meaning investors from Davao City, are putting up a business they want to get officially registered as Chocolate de San Isidro (CSI) Inc.

With the help of the Department of Trade and Industry, CSI Inc. is due to get a registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission this month, Sanchez said.

With an initial capital of 1.3 million pesos, CSI Inc. will put up in this town a factory capable of processing 250 kilos of cacao beans a day into about 12,500 dozens of chocolate chunks or tablea.

More than making profit, CSI Inc. aims to help farmers get better price for their cacao beans. CSI would be buying cacao beans at 75 pesos per kilo. So even when the market price goes down, our farmers get a better price, Sanchez said.

Traders get cacao beans here at 65 to 68 pesos per kilo and sell them in Cebu, Leyte, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City where cacao beans locally produced in San Isidro are being processed into chocolate chunks.

So why dont we produce tablea from the major source of cacao beans? Sanchez said.

In a press conference during this towns second founding anniversary on June 27, Sanchez disclosed himself as one of the local investors of CSI Inc.

He envisions CSI Inc. to grow under the management of local investors who have sympathy for local cacao farmers. After all, ang mga small farmers ang ugat ng industriya, so tutulungan natin sila, he said. We dont want to succumb to multinational companies, he said.

The small cacao farms of San Isidro make up this towns 3,600-hectare cacao industry, yielding an estimated 3,600 metric tons of cacao beans per hectare every year.

The local government of San Isidro is encouraging farmers to expand their cacao farms so it distributed seedlings especially in areas covered by the European funded project, Upland Development program (UDP).

Sanchez said UDP is helping San Isidro farmers organically grow cacao. That would make our Chocolate’ de San Isidro of premium taste. Pure and organic,” he said.

Sanchez cited the birth of CSI Inc. as one great accomplishment of the people of San Isidro and its local government as this surely sustains the local cacao industry, thereby moving forward our municipalitys economy.

With its declaration as a new municipality on June 27, 2004, San Isidro positioned itself as the “Chocolate Hub” of Davao del Norte aside from being a cavers’ paradise having been naturally endowed with spectacular caves.

It has also identified cacao as its competitive product, to the One-Town One-Product (OTOP) program designed to promote local entrepreneurial venture and jobs creation.

San Isidro featured during its first founding anniversary the largest tablea of 2.5 meters in diameter, weighing 500 kilos. This year, the town served the public with various delicacies and drinks made of tablea. (Philippine Information Agency/JMDAbangan)

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