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MEDA to target 5,400 beneficiaries to improve cacao industry

THE MENNONITE Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Philippines will select 5,400 beneficiaries for the Resilience and Inclusion through Investment for Sustainable Agrikultura (RIISA) project to boost the cacao industry.

During an interview at the PEP Talks on June 25, MEDA Deputy Country Director Roderick Valones said they will select cacao smallholder farmers in Davao Region to increase their income to provide them with a sustainable livelihood and become climate change-resilient. The project aims to improve the productivity of cacao and address the problems of low supply and high demand in the cacao industry.

“So it’s contributing to their living income and, that way, they can meet their daily needs. Because if not they will continue abandoning their cacao farms or worse cut down their cacao trees,” he said.

Beneficiaries will be given financial and non-financial aid with non-financial support such as market linkages to facilitate business relationships, and technical assistance aligned with the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).

Valones also said that with RIISA they can engage in small and medium cacao businesses where it builds business relationships between the small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and the cacao smallholder farmers to help understand the needs of the cacao farmers. They are also encouraging the beneficiaries and SMEs to focus their business model on the production level of cacao to face challenges in increasing the cacao yield.

He added that MEDA also promotes environmental sustainability and inclusive agricultural practices as Valones explained that agriculture can lead to land degradation and habitat destruction. For cacao, they are promoting agroforestry by intercropping cacao with fruit and forest trees to protect biodiversities.

“We are promoting another approach. It’s another system but it’s still connected to the market. You protect the environment by having an agroforestry cacao system and then you’re also addressing the local demand by producing an environmentally sustainable cacao,” he said.

RIISA is a five-year project implemented by MEDA with funding from the government of Canada focusing on the cacao sector of the Philippines. RIISA’s goal is to strengthen the country’s cacao sector through investment and creating sustainable livelihoods for the women and men farmers, and businesspeople of Mindanao.



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