DAVAO City being declared as the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines and Davao Region as the Cacao Capital of the Philippines will open more opportunities to local cacao farmers and processors.
Voting 22-0-1, the Senate passed on Monday, March 8, Senate Bill 1741 (SB 1741), also known as “An Act declaring the City of Davao as the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines and the entire Region XI (Davao Region) as the Cacao Capital of the Philippines.”
The bill, filed on July 27, 2020, was sponsored by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. It was co-authored by Senators Christopher Lawrence T. Go and Ronald dela Rosa, both from Davao Region.
Villar said in her sponsorship speech on February 9, 2021, cited Malagos Chocolate, which has bagged 28 international awards, for its chocolate products. Also under the Cocoa Excellence Programme in 2017, cacao produced by Malagos Agri Ventures has been included among the best 50 cacao beans globally.
Senator Go said that “our cacao beans are highly sought-after among chocolate makers from the United States, Japan and Europe. I am beaming with pride over this significant achievement of our farmers, making the Philippines world renowned.”
Leo Brian Leuterio, City Agriculturist’s Office head, said they welcome the passage of SB 1741 because it recognizes the efforts made by local cacao farmers, processors, and chocolate makers.
The Davao Region produces around 78.76 percent of the annual production of cacao in the Philippines.
Villar also said Laguna-based and multi-awarded chocolate brand Auro Chocolates also sources its cacao beans from Davao-based farming farmers.
She also recognized Cacao City and Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (Cidami) as among the contributors to the growth of the chocolate and cacao industry in Davao City and Davao Region.
Cacao City is an outlet store for cacao products while Cidami is a non-profit based in Davao is also the leading cacao value chain organizer in cacao.
Meanwhile, Armi Lopez-Garcia, national chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council, has earlier expressed opposition to SB 1741 saying it “discriminates against the many cacao planters and chocolate producers in other regions.”
PCIC said Davao city would have the definite advantage in marketing and branding, “Clearly, a great disadvantage that will tend to a restraint of trade because the level playing field of fair competition has been slanted in favor of Davao city.”
The PCIC is a private sector-led council created to spearhead the development of the cacao industry. This will be composed of public and private sector representatives with the Department of Agriculture as co-chair of the Council.
But Leuterio said the bill will increase awareness of locally made chocolates. This is seen to produce better prices, industries, and side-table demand for chocolates and cacao.
Senator Go agrees with the city agriculturist’s stand that the recognition can generate more interest. “More interest means more market and sales. More market and sales mean good stable prices of raw materials, which always benefit the smaller farmers in the value chain,” he said.
But now Lopez-Garcia said the council will continue to work on its mandate to help develop the cacao industry as it has lined-up several projects: “We are now thinking of so many projects that will really lift up the spirits of the industry players all over the country.”
The bill’s co-author, Bong Go, tends to be more optimistic saying that the Davao experience ought to serve as a model inspiring the rest of the country to improve supply to a market that is yet expanding.
“Davao is not the end of the road, but the gateway to more production for our farmers and more exports for our traders, a win-win proposition. Our region has always been generous at sharing its opportunities with the rest of the country,”
The senator also clarified “Layunin ng nasabing panukala hindi lamang basta kilalanin ang Davao bilang pinakamalaking producer ng cacao sa Pilipinas kundi upang mas mapagbuti pa ang industriya ng cacao sa ating bansa.” (SOVEREIGNPH/SUN-STAR DAVAO)