Senator Cynthia Villar on Tuesday led a public hearing on the bill seeking to declare Davao City as the chocolate capital and Region 11 as the cacao-producing capital of the country.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, in a hybrid hearing conducted through teleconference, said Senate Bill 1741 seeks “to garner additional government support not only to maintain, promote, and protect the country’s cacao industry, but most importantly, to ensure its sustainability for the benefit of farmers and other stakeholders.”
Villar noted that Davao’s Malagos Chocolate is one of the frontline brands of the Philippines in the international market and has made it to the list of the “Best 50 Beans in the World” under the Cocoa Excellence Programme in 2017.
Another multi-awarded brand is Auro Chocolates, which takes pride for its bean-to-bar process since they have cacao beans that are fully traceable in planting communities in the Philippines.
Its commitment to quality has earned it 23 international awards including the Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award—a first for the Philippines—in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA).
Citing a study by Euromonitor, Villar said the cocoa sector is projected to grow, driven primarily by its extensive appeal, popularity, and wide use in the food and beverage industry.
Asia is also expected to become the second largest consumer market for cocoa-based ingredients in the world after Western Europe.
“The Philippines, and specifically Davao, is right in the cacao sweet spot. The island nation is so well situated that it is possible to grow all three major types of cacao varieties such as criollo, forester, and trinitario,” Villar said.
Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for High-Value Crops Evelyn Lavina said they support Villar’s bill considering that Davao Region produces 6,704 metric tons or almost 80% of the cacao production in the country and has dedicated 18,985 hectares of land for planting of cacao.
Lavina also said that the bill is a recognition of the hard work of the famers who contributed to rural development.
Also discussed during the hearing was Senate Bill 899 authored by Sen. Lito Lapid, which proposes the establishment of a cacao research and development center.
The hearing was also attended by Senators Nancy Binay, Bong Go, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, and Francis Tolentino.