CACAO CHAMPS. Officials from the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region (DA-11) pose with the 10 cacao farmers who were recognized on Tuesday (Nov. 22, 2022) for having the best quality cacao beans in the region during a gathering held at the DA-11 office in Davao City. The winners will have the chance to showcase the quality of their produce at the national level on Nov. 24-25, 2022 for a chance to represent the country at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, the biggest international annual trade fair for cocoa and the chocolate industry. (Photo courtesy of DA-11)]

DAVAO CITY – Ten cacao farmers in Davao Region will vie for the national level of the 2022 Philippine Cocoa Quality Awards (PCQA) after being recognized as among those having the best quality cocoa yield, the regional agriculture office said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture in Davao (DA-11) said the PCQA awarding ceremony for the winners will be held during the Nov. 24-25 National Cacao Congress at the SMX Convention Center in this city.

On Tuesday, the DA-11 identified the regional level winners as David Delaserna, Evelyn Vicentino, Judith Gabasa, Joel Lorenzana, Policarpo Enricoso Jr., Joebert Celis and Melinda Villaflor, all from this city; Sergio Dandasan and Paz Sumaylo from Davao del Norte; and Ruben Idea of Davao Oriental.

“We must stay on top. Being on top means quality and quantity in production which gives bigger sales and profit, and staying on top is a gateway for better business opportunities,” Abel Monteagudo, DA-11 regional director, said in a statement Wednesday.

The national winners, he said, will be allowed to represent the country at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, the biggest international annual trade fair for the cocoa and chocolate industry.

Monteagudo also acknowledged the contribution of the local cacao farmers in the recent declaration of Davao City as the "Chocolate and Cacao Capital of the Philippines."

Meanwhile, Monteagudo underscored the importance of PCQA in increasing awareness and promoting education on the cocoa value chain, saying this enhances opportunities for local farmers to produce high-quality cacao beans at par with other countries.

“It also promotes market opportunities to improve farmers’ livelihoods,” he added. Meanwhile, Fe Oguio, the Davao City Agriculturist Office (CAGRO) cacao focal person, said qualifiers were selected through the blindfold method by the judges on Oct. 12-13 at the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

She said many farmers were able to join the contest because of the efforts of the DA-11 and the Department of Trade and Industry–11 in convincing local government units in the region to join and showcase their cacao produce.

Enricoso, who is among the awardees, said that he is happy that the cacao sample from his farm was chosen to be among the entries submitted.

“The uniqueness of my beans comes from the fact that these are of the Trinitario variety, which makes them different from other new varieties,” he said. (PNA)