WHEN we think of Davao Region in relation to food, it is usually known for its durian. However, over the years, it has also become known for its cavendish bananas and pomelo.
In recent years, we are seeing two other crops that is becoming more associated with Davao Region -- cacao and coffee. Recently the cacao and coffee industries in the region were given a big boost following two milestones last week.
On May 26, five coffee farmers of the Balutakay Coffee Farmers Association (Bacofa) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur were among the six winners of the Arabica Category of the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition 2021. The lot of Marites Arellano won first place and her coffee beans were also awarded the Best Natural Processed Arabica.
Also in the top six are Lendilou Loon (Top 2), Jastine Mae Dubria (Top 3), Marifel dela Cerna (Top 4 and Best Honey Processed Arabica), and Maria Luz Dubria (Top 6). The top six scored an average of over 83 points. If coffee beans score over 80 points, they are considered specialty coffee.
PCQC head judge Shaun Ong, who is based in Singapore, praised the coffee beans from Davao Region. He said the top three in particular are among the best Arabica beans he has tasted from the Philippines.
In a press statement, the Department of Agriculture said PCQC winners are able to command a higher price for their coffee and see an increase in demand.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on May 27 Republic Act (RA) 115471 declaring Davao City as the Chocolate Capital of the Philippines and the entire Davao Region as the Cacao Captial of the Philippines.
Filed as Senate Bill (SB) 1741, RA 115471 was authored by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and co-authored by Senators Christopher Lawrence T. Go and Ronald dela Rosa, both from Davao Region. The law was passed in the Senate on March 8.
Chocolates from Davao City and cacao from Davao Region have made their mark on the international scene. Malagos Chocolates has bagged 28 international awards, including those from the Academy of Chocolate, for its chocolate products. Under the Cocoa Excellence Programme in 2017, cacao produced by Malagos Agri Ventures has been included among the best 50 cacao beans globally. Several cacao processors in the country are also sourcing their raw materials from Davao cacao farmers.
Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao Inc. (Cidami) President Val Turtur told SunStar Davao that the signed law will boost the promotion of chocolates and cacao from Davao Region and at the same time boost the morale of the cacao farmers.
These milestones are a welcome development to the flourishing coffee and cacao industry in the region.
However, as much as this enhances the position, pricing, and promotion of cacao and coffee from Davao, it also serves as an important reminder to local farmers and processors to ensure the quality of their products.
In a way, these accolades will also put our coffee and cacao under the microscope. Buyers will expect that whatever comes from Davao, it is of the best quality. Hence, it is important for stakeholders in the public and private sectors in Davao Region to work together to ensure that high-quality coffee, cacao, and its by-products are being produced in the region.