Villar wants Davao City declared as PH’s ‘Cacao and Chocolate Capital’

Published October 6, 2020, 12:32 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Cynthia Villar is pushing to declare Davao City as the country’s “Cacao and Chocolate Capital.”

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, chaired by Villar, on Monday approved Senate Bill No. 1741 containing her proposal to recognize Davao City as the cacao and chocolate capital of the Philippines.

She said her bill aims “to garner additional government support not only to maintain, promote, and protect the country’s cacao industry, but most importantly, to ensure its sustainability for the benefit of farmers and other stakeholders.”

“The Philippines, and specifically Davao, is right in the cacao sweet spot. The island nation is so well situated that it is possible to grow all three major types of cacao varieties such as criollo, forester , and trinitario,” Villar said in the hearing.

The senator mentioned Davao’s Malagos Chocolate as one of the frontline brands of the country in the international market, having been recognized in 2017 as one of the “Best 50 Beans in the World” under the Cocoa Excellence Programme.

Another multi-awarded brand is Auro Chocolates, which was known for its bean-to-bar process since they have cacao beans that are fully traceable in planting communities in the Philippines. 

“It’s commitment to quality has earned it 23 international awards including the Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award—a first for the Philippines—in the International Cocoa Awards,” Villar said.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for High-Value Crops Evelyn Lavina said that Davao Region produces 6,704 metric tons or almost 80 percent of the cacao production in the country. A total of 18,985 hectares of land has been dedicated in the region for the planting of cacao.

Villar, however, noted that the country’s cacao production still has to keep up to meet the local demand of 50,000 metric tons. The country produces only about 8,500 metric tons, she noted, citing a DA report.

“We are producing only 17 percent of our cacao demand. We are importing [83] percent of our cacao demand. We are not producing enough for the Philippines. Our production is not even enough to cover our local demand. We are importing chocolate from other countries, that’s why it’s so sad,” she said.

“They said 80 percent comes from Davao Region and 10 percent from the whole of Mindanao. So, Visayas and Luzon only produce 10 percent, so it’s really pathetic,” she added.

In pushing for her bill, Villar underscored how the Philippines could be a source of high-quality cacao in the world.

Citing a study by Euromonitor, she said the cocoa sector is projected to grow due to its appeal, popularity, and wide use in the food and beverage industry.  She also noted that Asia is also expected to become the second largest consumer market for cocoa-based ingredients in the world after Western Europe.