3 farmers from Davao Region to compete in cocoa awards in France

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 January) — Four cacao farmers from the Philippines, three of them coming from Davao Region, will represent the country in the 2021 International Cocoa Awards (ICA) during the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France in October.

In a text message on Thursday, Department of Trade and Industry-Caraga director Edwin Banquerigo, who is also secretariat of the Philippine National Cacao Industry Council, said that the thrust of the council is to position the Philippine cacao in the global arena.

Cacao farmer Jose Saguban of Paquibato District, Davao City won the first ever Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award in Salon du Chocolat Paris in 2019.. Photo courtesy of Department of Agriculture-Davao Region

Arthur Lagoc, of Barangay Talandang, Tugbok District and Solidad Robillo, of Barangay Gumalang, Baguio District in Davao City, and Carlos Brasicula, of Barangay Sawata in Davao del Norte, along with Christopher Fadriga of Barangay Atipuluan in Bago City, Negros Occidental, were selected to join the competition in France after winning the 2021 Philippine Cacao Philippine Quality Award (PCQA) which drew 23 entries nationwide.

Banquerigo said the country’s participation in trade fairs and competitions could establish a strong market presence for Philippine cacao products.

“Philippine cacao is now a global winner,” he said.

Charita Puentespina, Puentespina Farms founder who is this year’s PCQA organizing committee chair, said in a press release issued Wednesday by Department of Agriculture-Davao, that they want to raise awareness about the opportunities in the cacao industry “by showcasing not just the best practices of our cacao farmers but the quality of their produce in the international arena.”

She believed that it would open more opportunities for local cacao growers to establish international market linkages.

She said an initial screening was done on the entries’ aroma, external appearance, fissuring and color of the cacao beans while a group of chocolatiers evaluated the second and final judging.

Workers graft cacao seedlings at the Davao City’s nursery in Malagos district. The city has been declared as the “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.” MindaNews file photo

The Puentespina Farms, maker of the world-class Malagos Chocolate, has bagged numerous international recognitions for its chocolate products, winning “Best 50 Beans in the World” in 2017.

Jose Saguban, a cacao farmer from Kialaw, Malabog in Paquibato District, Davao City, won the first ever Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award in Salon du Chocolat Paris in 2019.

Saguban’s entry was the only one to make the cut out of the five bean samples from the Philippines.

He supplies beans to fine dark chocolate-maker Auro Chocolate, which won the country five golds in the ICA 2020—Asia Pacific, including the Best in Competition and Overall Winner for the 50 percent Regalo-Single Varietal-Milk Chocolate.

Puentespina said she believed in the “unique and exceptional quality” of the country’s entry this year. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)