DOST’s SETUP Program Helps Camiguin Woman Entrepreneur Scale Up Cacao Processing Venture

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s banner program, Small Enterprise Technology Program (SETUP) helps Camiguin-based woman entrepreneur and farmer, Julieta Butalid-Dela Cerna, scale up her cacao processing venture through science, technology, and innovation.

DOST’s intervention brought about a remarkable transformation for the business, achieving a 20% boost in productivity, a solid 25% increase in sales, and successfully reducing rejects from 40% to 35%. Additionally, the intervention led to the creation of two direct and three indirect jobs, boosting the local economy.

In 2021, the firm was able to acquire food-grade equipment with better specifications through SETUP. Among the equipment availed are roaster machine, a cacao colloid mill, an industrial multipurpose cacao cracker/dehuller winnower, and more.

“Eto ang pinakamalaki na tulong sa akin kase may grace period one year at saka three years to pay so hindi mabigat sa pagbayad”, Dela Cerna said. (This is the biggest help because of the one-year grace period and the three-year payment fulfillment; hence, it is not heavy to pay.)

DOST also provided technological consultancy services to the firm, such as Good Manufacturing Practices and food safety seminar-workshops, smart packaging assistance, Halal awareness seminar, MPEX or Manufacturing Productivity Extension, and others.

The agency also provided assistance in the drafting of the firm’s Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP), which was among the major documents needed to acquire License to Operate from the Food and Drug Administration. Mama Jita’s Food Products acquired LTO in August last year. The LTO certification enabled Mama Jita’s Food Products to enter neighboring malls and supermarkets in the region.

The technology upgrading helped the firm catch up with the overwhelming purchase orders from partner pasalubong centers, malls, supermarkets, and outlets for their two main products: Tablea and Tablea Choco drink.

During the DOST Secretary’s visit in April this year, Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr asked Dela Cerna her aspirations for her business. “Ang pangarap ko na mas lumago pa (business), target maka CPR (Certificate of Product Registration) para maka display sa mga malls at saka (maka)export.” (My dream is for the business to prosper and secure CPR so I can display in malls and export my products.)

Mama Jita’s Tablea is a chocolate bar for champorado (chocolate porridge) and sikwate (hot chocolate drink). Her products, the tablea and the cold chocolate drink, are made from 100% pure, native cacao variety, with strong aroma. It is available to select pasalubong centers and malls in region 10.

SETUP is a nationwide strategy encouraging and assisting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt technological innovations to improve their products, services, operations and increase their productivity and competitiveness. (Efraem O.Egoc/DOST 10)

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