Recognizing the superior quality and exceptional flavors of diverse cocoa varieties, the 2021 Philippine Cacao Quality Award (PCQA) announced its four winners who will be given the chance to showcase the quality of their produce in the international arena when they represent the country in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) in October 2021 at Salon du Chocolat in Paris.
Out of the 23 cacao bean entries nationwide submitted by farmers engaged in cacao farming, only the cacao beans from Mr. Christopher Fadriga of Atipulan, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Arthur Lagoc of Talandang, Tugbok District, Davao City, Solidad Robillo of Gumalang, Baguio District, Davao City and Carlos Barsicula of Sawata, San Isidro, Davao del Norte have passed the series of evaluation and selection processes.
2021 PCQA Organization Committee Chairman Charita Puentespina said the competition seeks to increase the awareness on the cocoa value chain in the country and the opportunity to produce high-quality cocoa.
“By showcasing not just the best practices of our cacao farmers but the quality of their produce in the international arena, it will create market linkages which will open more market doors and vast opportunities for our cacao farmers,” said Puentespina.
Cacao experts have evaluated the aroma, external appearance, fissuring and color of the cacao beans on the first phase of the PCQA, while a group of chocolatiers evaluated the second and final judging.
“We are confident with our national entries to the ICA as we believe on the unique and exceptional quality of our cocoa. For years, Filipino cacao farmers have been making it big in the international market. This has been made possible with the support from the Department of Agriculture [DA], Department of Trade and Industry [DTI], and the Davao City Agriculture Office,” Puentespina added.
In 2017, Puentespina Farms won “Best 50 Beans in the World” while in 2019, Jose Saguban made history for the country as he won the first ever Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award in Salon du Chocolat Paris. Just last month, Auro Chocolate once again made the country proud when it won 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.
DA Undersecretary for High Value Crops and Rural Credit Evelyn Laviña said that judges’ feedbacks on every entry will be sent back to the participating farmers for them to know the opportunities to improve on their produce.
“This is an opportunity for every cacao farmer to step up their cacao ventures and take advantage of the increasing market demand for quality cocoa. The DA’s High Value Crops Development Program [HVCDP] does not only provide production and support services but also the marketing aspect. This is in line with the DA’s twin goal of Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita,” said Laviña.
For her part, Technical Director for Operations Marila Corpuz congratulated the Davao cacao farmers for making it big in the domestic and international markets.
“We are proud and thankful that our farmers have utilized the support given to improve their livelihood and the quality of their produce. These cacao farmers are beneficiaries of our High Value Crops Development Program—cacao project that provides production support such as seedlings, technical support from various trainings and marketing support through exhibits,” said Corpuz.
They are also the farmer-cooperators of the DA-XI HVCDP cacao rehabilitation project led by HVCDP XI regional coordinator Merriel Aglibot.