Created on Monday, 24 February 2014 Published Date

chocohzeChocolates are almost everybody’s favorites. Made from processed cacao beans, the chocolate’s irresistible and sweet taste has made for its soaring demand. The cacao industry is a source of lucrative livelihood opportunities for growers and businessmen to earn better income.

One such chocolate business located in the bustling City of Cebu, is the House of Chocolate owned by Raquel Choa, a Cebuana chocolate’s connoisseur. Her passion started since her childhood when she made sikwate or hot chocolate from tablea, roasted cacao beans formed into small lumps. She established Ralfe Gourment, Inc. also known as the chocolate boutique with her husband Alfred.

Edu Patino, the marketing Manager of Ralfe Gourmet said Raquel’s love for tablea paved way for the establishment of the company in 2009. Their few years in business was a challenge, doing some trial and error to make the finest quality tablea, the raw material for chocolate made from local cacao beans. Having perfected the concoction, the company is now producing different kinds of chocolates of different flavours and aroma which can compete with the other chocolates worldwide, he said.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala visited the chocolate house and expresses full support to the establishment’s locally made-chocolates. As part of his market promotion for Philippine made-products, the Secretary samples this Cebu chocolates during his local and international meeting.chocohze1

Wilberto Castillo, Chief of the Department of Agriculture-VII (DA-7) Regional Crops Protection Center (RCPC) and Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS) Coordinator, who is in close contact with the Chocolate House ensures regular monitoring of cacao beans against aflatoxin, a toxin by fungus in improperly dried field crops. Aflatoxon is prevented through Good agricultural practices (GAP) and strictly observes good manufacturing practices (GMP), which Ralfe Gourmet is strictly observes.

To date, Patino said their monthly cacao pods requirement has risen from one 1 metric ton last year to three metric tons. Most of the pods are sourced out from Davao with the help of Cocoa Philippine Foundation (CocoaPhil). This in addition to supply come from their own cacao plantation in Balamban, Cebu. As part of their corporate social responsibility, they conduct cacao production trainings to farmers and encourage them to plant more cacao. (C. Victoria/DA-7 RAFIS)