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PIA Press Release

San Isidro of Davao Norte to get organic certification

by JMD Abangan

By Jean D. Abangan

Tagum City (15 October) -- The upland young town of San Isidro in Davao del Norte is expected to pass the evaluation of foreign traders expected to soon come over to check if cacao plants in the town are organically grown and its farmers have enjoyed an equitable income share.

Provincial Director Nenita Nazareno of the Department of Trade and Industry in Davao del Norte said in a recently held forum among small entrepreneurs of the province, that Tradin will be bringing to San Isidro later this month, international evaluators to assess the state of cacao farming of the municipality.

"Hopefully, because San Isidro is in the uplands, it has a greater chance of getting the organic certification," Nazareno said in an interview.

On June 27, 2004, the Municipality of San Isidro was carved out from adjacent municipalities of Asuncion and Kapalong which, together, had bequeathed 13 barangays, majority of which were producing cacao.

In a presentation during the same forum, Zunio Sanchez who was then the investment promotion officer of San Isidro also bared the visit of Tradin personalities who Sanchez said, are European-based international organic traders of agricultural products.

Together with the organic certifying officials, the Tradin personalities would examine San Isidro whether it would pass the standards of organically growing cacao.

"Once certified as organic, our chocolate would be able to enter the European markets, the United States and Japan," Sanchez said.

San Isidro is the home of Chocolate' d San Isidro which is now being classified as "high-end" chocolate liquor sold in class hotels and supermarkets.

The town concentrated in chocolate liquor production locally known as "tableya" when the municipal government signed in year 2006 Resolution No. 2006-025 which identifies tableya as its One-Town One-Product (OTOP) commodity.

OTOP is a national government convergence program under the Arroyo administration, which aims to trigger income-and job-generating activities in the countryside.

Sanchez who was also one of the convenors of the Chocolate' d San Isidro (CSI), Inc. bared San Isidro have 6,000 hectares planted to cacao but these are not grown in large plantation-type but in small-farmer scales.

"Cacao (trees) in San Isidro are grown organic by neglect," he said while explaining that the trees have been left to nourish on land made fertile by nature.

Sanchez also said that Tradin will also be assessing San Isidro for Fair Trade certification which puts a mark of equitable benefits that farmers are getting out of cacao farming.

Agri-based products bearing Fair Trade mark are mostly preferred in Europe because buyers know that when they buy them, they will be helping the farmers who are producing such product, Sanchez explained.

Nazareno confirmed such type of arrangement when a product could be certified under fair trade but she was hoping that the Chocolate' d San Isidro, Inc. management has been able to identify a partner non-government organization which would serve as a conduit for fair trade funds to be released to cacao farmers for farm improvement. (PIA)[top]

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