3 cacao farmers from Davao City representing PH in int’l cocoa awards

DAVAO CITY – Fresh from winning the 2022 Philippine Cacao Quality Awards (PCQA), three cacao farmers from this city will represent the Philippines in the 2023 International Cocoa Awards at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France.

Department of Agriculture Regional Executive Director Abel James I. Monteagudo said that these cacao farmers are Judith Gabasa of Bagong Silang and Policarpo Enricoso Jr. of Barangay Saloy in Calinan District and Melina Villaflor of Callawa, Buhangin District.

The event will be held from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1.

Monteagudo said that Gabasa, Enricoso, and Villaflor bested 100 entries from all over the country during the PCQA held in Butuan City last year.

He said that Davao region has what it takes to be known globally for cacao because its “chocolate products are at par with the best in the world.”

Founded in 2008, the Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme is being conducted every two years to recognize “quality, flavor, and diversity of cocoas according to their origin.”

The CoEX Programme is the “entry point for cocoa producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA), a global competition celebrating the diversity of cocoa flavors and recognizing the skills and know-how of the men and women who produce it.”

Monteagudo said that the agency would strive to make the region produce more “best cacao beans” and “empower more award-winning cacao farmers, chocolatiers, and entrepreneurs to be globally competitive.”

He added that cocoa processors in the region are “scaling up,” many of them are venturing into the international markets like the United Arab Emirates and the US which have preference for dark chocolates from the Philippines.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), cacao production in the country during the first quarter of 2023 slightly declined to 2,350 metric tons from 2,380 MT in the same period of 2022.

Out of this total, Davao region produced 1,800 MT or 76.7 percent while the remaining 23.3 percent came from the combined output of the other 15 regions in the country.

He said there is a growing demand for cacao in the global market.

Monteagudo said local supply could not meet the high demand from domestic and international markets which present a huge market opportunity for the local farmers.

Acknowledging that the Philippines may not be able to compete with other countries that produce high volumes of cacao, he said the government is focusing on improving the “quality” of the beans.

Under Republic Act 11547 passed in 2021, the entire Davao region has been declared as the cacao capital and Davao City as chocolate capital of the country.

The law recognizes “importance of cacao as a driver of rural development not only because of its singular potential as a raw material that can increase the country’s export earnings tremendously, and put the name of the country in the map for producing the finest chocolate beans, but for having provided livelihood to many small farmers in the countryside.”