Branding Bohol as an eco-cultural tourist destination with a strong agro-industry can never be better than this: offering the local dairy refreshment as a welcome drink.
In Chocolate Hills country enter chocobao, a concoction of chocolate and pasteurized carabao milk chilled and served to the thirsty.
Then thought to be just an expensive concoction to force carabao dairy as a livelihood alternative, chocobao has slowly nudged and horned its way to resort freezers, ready for the thirsting tourist.
Governor Edgar Chatto, in his latest State of the Province Address (SOPA), urged the crowd at the Bohol Cultural Center to try chocobao as he proposed a toast saying “Padayon Bohol.”
A province that has carved a name for itself in eco-cultural tourism, this time, Bohol asserts its humble agri-accomplishments especially in the livelihood-focused inclusive growth strategy to the mainstream.
“We are the first-ever province to have produced 1,000 liters of dairy,” the governor bared, citing the news he gathered during the annual Dairy Festival held at the Philippine Carabao Center in Lomangog, Ubay.
The first 1,000 liters were milked from both dairy cows and carabaos, which incidentally also produce high-quality milk and cheese.
Bohol dairy authorities reported that the 16% increase in milk production from 2013 to 2014 has generated P26 million in income.
Chocolate Hills, Boho
For this, the government pushed support for the Bohol Dairy Processing and Marketing Enterprise, when its members have proven that there is income in dairy production especially with the main farm animal: carabao.
On this, in his SOPA, the governor said: "Another example of a livelihood-focused inclusive growth strategy: we get our supply of milk from local dairy farmers, thereby raising their income levels, and it leads to a whole set of multiplier effects for the rest of the province.”
Chatto, who is in his last term as provincial chief executive, continues to pump prime on health and nutrition as among the top priorities in the HEAT-IT Bohol Program.
The prospect of up-scaling the milk industry and its potential while generating income and increasing livelihood opportunities for the people is what Chatto has been plugging along in his talks with farmers.
“We improve nutrition among Boholanos, enhance the supply of milk and cheese for the tourism industry, and raise prestige for our brand of Boholano dairy, known as Chocobao,” the governor cited.
“I have just signed the Executive Order for the inclusion of Boholano dairy as an official welcome drink for Bohol’s resorts and tourism establishments,” he added.
He said that the Dairy Development Program is relatively new, and this is in partnership with the Bohol Dairy Producers Association (BoDPA).
The plan is to expand dairy milk production, and BODPA’s Bohol Dairy Carabao Processing and Marketing Enterprise pegs a P9.23 M proposal to strengthen its production capacity.
The governor said the proposal is now supported by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) funded by World Bank and implemented in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Carabao Center and National Dairy Authority.
Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz was reported to have urged hotels, resorts, restaurants and similar establishments to serve native Boholano beverages using native ingredients as welcome drinks to their guests.
“Gov. Chatto gave our office a directive to push for green economies and to choose industries and projects where Bohol has an edge, as in the field of tourism,” Dr. Lapiz said. (rmn/Rey Anthony H. Chiu/PIA7-Bohol)