DTI to expand cacao output nationwide Davao attracts European chocolate makers

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The 4th Davao Chocolate Festival held Oct. 11-15 in Davao City. -- CARMENCITA A. CARILLO

DAVAO CITY – With several European chocolate makers now looking into sourcing cacao beans from the Davao Region, which accounts for about 80% of the country’s cacao production, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working to help develop more farms in other parts of the country.

Edwin O. Banquerigo, DTI assistant regional director for Davao and National Cacao Industry Cluster coordinator, said representatives of manufacturers from France and Switzerland were in town last week to discuss possible purchase deals, while a chocolate maker from Belgium, which is planning to set up a processing facility in Subic, Zambales, is also considering sourcing raw materials from Davao.

“Two possible buyers of Davao’s cacao beans are looking at the Philippines for their supply and they were here in Davao last week to personally check our cacao,” said Mr. Banquerigo in an interview during the opening of the 4th Cacao Festival last week.

“The Belgian company is eyeing around one thousand metric tons supply of beans and they went here after they heard good feedback about the quality of Davao cacao beans,” he added.

Mr. Banquerigo, who is also a member of the multi-sectoral Philippine National Cacao Industry Council, said with the “high level of interest and excitement” in the cacao industry, the DTI and the council have been organizing various activities to increase participation in other areas.

Among these activities were the National Cacao Congress held in Cebu City in August, while networking events have been scheduled in Iloilo and Butuan this month, and in Luzon in November.

The goal, Mr. Banquerigo said, is to bring the market and technology outside Davao.

At the same time, assessments are being undertaken on production capacity and quality, particularly among smallholders.

He noted that in Davao Region, about 90% of growers are small farmers.

“The reason why we are pushing for the development of cacao is because if we develop the cacao industry, we spur rural development, achieve inclusive growth.”

Philippine Statistics Authority data show that 5,073 metric tons (MT) of the total 6,262.77 MT produced in 2016 came from Davao. Davao del Sur had the biggest contribution at 1,702.54 MT, followed by Davao City with 1,606.80. The rest of the provinces produced the following: Davao del Norte, 945.31 MT; Davao Oriental, 507.26 MT; and Compostela Valley, 311.92 MT.

Meanwhile, the industry council is set to participate in the Salon du Chocolat, a yearly trade fair for the international chocolate industry.

The Philippines will have eight cacao producers participating, with four from Davao, including Davao City-based Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp.

Malagos, which works with smallholders, will be receiving at the event its recognition as one of the 50 best bean samples in the 2017 Cocoa Excellence (CoEx) Programme.

“The recognition is not just for Malagos… It shows that Davao and the Philippines are the source of quality cacao beans,” Mr. Banquerigo said.

The industry council is also currently preparing to process its fine flavor cacao certification from the International Cocoa Organization. – Carmencita A. Carillo