DAVAO CITY — The Puentespina Farm, maker of the award-winning Malagos chocolate brand, has become the first in the Philippines to join the list of recognized “heirloom” farms by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP).
“We are truly grateful and deeply honored to receive the Heirloom Cacao Designation from the HCP Fund to start the new year. To become designated ‘heirloom cacao’ is an incredibly high standard to meet,” said Rex Victor P. Puentespina, Malagos Agri-Ventures Corp.’s farmer and chocolate maker.
“We’re very proud to bring this honor to our country,” in an email announcing their inclusion in the HCP network.
HCP, a non-government group launched in 2012 by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, aims to “identify and preserve fine flavor or ‘heirloom’ cacao varieties for the conservation of biological diversity and the empowerment of farming communities.”
The list of 16 recognized heirloom farms is dominated by Latin American countries, with a couple from the African continent, and one other Asian nation, Vietnam.
“We are elated to be part of this very small group of farmers who have been given this designation as Heirloom Cacao,” said Malagos Agri-Ventures President Charita P. Puentespina.
Mr. Puentespina said heirloom cacao is “the foundation of great chocolate. The trees and beans are considered heirloom variety because of a combination of their historic, cultural, botanical, geographical and flavor value.”
The Malagos cacao beans and various chocolate products derived from them have so far brought home 29 international awards.
“A rising tide lifts all boats. We want the cacao farmers to realize the earning potential of cacao, and how they can raise their game so that they, too, can produce world-class chocolates. When we raise the awareness of how valuable our cacao is, we are able to uplift the lives of farmers and encourage the growth of an entire industry,” Mr. Puentespina said. — Marifi S. Jara