#MINDANAO: The Chocolate capital and emerging coffee country

With Davao-based coffee producers bagging important awards in the recent Philippine Coffee Quality Competition and the declaration of Davao as the country's chocolate capital via Republic Act 11547, the Davao Region's position as a haven for developing exceptional high value crops is bolstered further.

In the most recent crop statistics of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Davao Region supplies 79% of our country’s Cacao, and 17% of our total coffee production.

We all know that the Davao region produces the country's finest pomelos, bananas and durians, (which have recently reached Australia) with many farmers honing their skills in improving quality over time and applying their know how in cultivating other crops. Arabica coffee and cacao producers not only in Mindanao, but in other areas in the country also benefit from such experience.

With a domestic market importing large volumes of these commodities since we still need to boost local supply, and an export market now recognizing the quality of our produce, great potential beckons for our local farms, as the high income from these crops, such as cacao, are intercropped with coconut and coffee can also be intercropped with other suitable food crops.

With these potentials, recent and proposed economic reforms can attract investments that can further process the crop into semiprocessed material which, in turn can generate two outcomes: The first is to create a wider set of buyers that can take in the produced crop. Not all the beans will end up exported or end up in specialty coffee shops or chocolateirs. A big number will go to those making everyday coffee and candy products.

Secondly, the employment and business opportunity in the manufacture of finished coffee and chocolate products consumed by most Filipinos can be processed for local consumption by candy manufacturers. It’s time for a wider chocolate and coffee industry to take root and thrive.

As the economy continues to recover with the reduced decline in GDP to 4.2% from the previous year, and Standard and Poors maintenance of a BBB+ rating, it is clear that boosting such investments will and should be done by promoting these products and new industries emanating from cacao and coffee Local business groups, civil society organizations and government agencies must work together to help us achieve this potential.

Real property valuation reforms and other economic reforms are a must

A current reform under discussion and i believe is needed is property valuation reform. The legislative proposal called the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act includes key reforms which will unify property values and do away with the differing values and assessments.

Why do we need this? Apart from mediating right of way issues, variances in valuation and long discussion delays real estate transactions and hampers development and growth of new business, which in many cases starts with acquiring property.

This forces us to suffer from variances in valuation, often having to engage repetitive and costly appraisals in order to obtain bank loans or offer property for sale. Sellers appraise, and buyers do their own, the banks do their own.

Faster transactions will also help banks sell off many of their acquired assets faster, enabling them to relend the resources to others and boost resiliency and growth.

Faster real estate transactions make doing business easier. This facilitates growth, and enable business to thrive.

As i have always written, new business is needed in the rural areas like Mindanao, if we are to keep the path of recovery and encourage a return to the provinces from urban centers like Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.