Editorial: Davao, beyond the durian

WHEN we think of the Davao region in relation to food, it is generally known for its durian. However, over the years it has also become known for its cavendish bananas and pomelo.

In recent years, we have seen two other crops that are increasingly associated with the Davao region: cocoa and coffee. Recently, the region’s cocoa and coffee industries were given a big boost after two milestones last week.

On May 26, five coffee growers from the Balutakay Coffee Growers Association (Bacofa) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur were among the six winners in the Arabica category of the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition 2021. The Marites Arellano batch won first place and his coffee beans also received the award for best natural processed Arabica.

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) are also in the top six. The top six averaged over 83 points. If the coffee beans score over 80 points, they are considered specialty coffees.

Singapore-based PCQC Chief Justice Shaun Ong praised the Davao region’s coffee beans. He said the first three in particular were some of the best Arabica beans he had tasted from the Philippines.

In a press release, the Agriculture Ministry said PCQC winners were able to command a higher price for their coffee and see increased demand.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Law (RA) 115471 on May 27 declaring Davao City as the chocolate capital of the Philippines and the entire Davao region as the cocoa capital of the Philippines.

Introduced as Senate Bill (SB) 1741, RA 115471 was written by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and co-authored by Senators Christopher Lawrence T. Go and Ronald dela Rosa, both from the Davao region. The law was passed in the Senate on March 8.

The chocolates from the city of Davao and the cocoa from the Davao region have made their mark on the international scene. Malagos Chocolates has won 28 international awards, including those from the Academy of Chocolate, for its chocolate products. As part of the Cocoa Excellence Program in 2017, cocoa produced by Malagos Agri Ventures was included among the 50 best cocoa beans in the world. Several cocoa processors in the country also source their raw materials from cocoa farmers in Davao.

Mindanao Cocoa Industry Development Association Inc. (Cidami) chairman Val Turtur told SunStar Davao that the signed law will boost the promotion of chocolates and cocoa from the Davao region and in at the same time will boost the morale of cocoa farmers.

These milestones are a welcome development for the thriving coffee and cocoa industry in the region.

However, as much as it improves the position, prices and promotion of Davao’s cocoa and coffee, 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 cocoa under the microscope. Buyers will expect anything from Davao to be of the highest quality. Therefore, it is important that public and private sector stakeholders in the Davao region work together to ensure the production of high quality coffee, cocoa and by-products in the region.

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Jamie Collins

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