BELGIAN companies eyeing to invest in the cacao and hydropower industries may consider locating in Davao Oriental, the provincial government said following a recent trade mission led by Belgium’s top envoy to the Philippines.

“(A)mong the investments that Belgian companies are interested in is establishing a complete chocolate-making factory and a cacao fermentation facility in the Philippines,” the local government said in a news release.

Belgian Ambassador Michel Parys “saw the potential of Davao Oriental for this investment opportunity following his visit to some cacao farms in the province,” it said.

The Davao Region, composed of five provinces and one independent city, has been declared as the Philippines’ cacao capital. In the fourth quarter 2020, the region accounted for 82% of national cacao output, based on Philippine Statistics Authority data. The country produced about 8,490 metric tons (MT) of cacao in 2019.

Data from the province show it currently has 5,291 hectares planted with cacao and another 2,660 hectares identified as potential expansion areas. It has a production capacity of 3,191 MT annually.

Another possible venture is the establishment of a micro hydropower plant in Cateel, a coastal town known for its Aliwagwag Waterfalls.

“Many Belgian companies think that if they come to Manila, (they are already) trading with the Philippines. I am trying to prove them wrong. Maybe you  should not stay in Manila. You have to go to Cebu, Davao,” Mr. Parys is quoted as saying in the press release.

“In order to tell this message… I have to learn what is possible in Davao, in Mindanao. The more information I can give, the more chances that more companies will be interested,” he said.

The Davao Oriental government, for its part, said it is “optimistic about the promising investment opportunity and partnership with the Kingdom of Belgium through its Embassy as it would help more locals, particularly farmers, boost their livelihood while also helping boost the local economy.” — MSJ