Chocolates have indeed become one of the most in-demand food products this year. For one, small businesses that started during the pandemic have been using it as an ingredient for their baked goods. Brownies, cookies, cakes, bread— they all use chocolate at some point.
It’s because of this boost in popularity of chocolates, specifically local brands, that the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) has launched a research project on local cacao. (Read: These Gift Edition Auro Chocolates Are a Definite Feast for the Eyes and Mouth)
The project aims to look into the types of cacao available in Mindanao and identify which are high-yielding and less susceptible to drought-related problems.
Cacao Species in Mindanao
One of the species that was identified by researchers from the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) is the Criollo. The Criollo variety is one of the most sought-after varieties of cacao as it is aromatic, flavorful, and is often used for high-quality chocolate products.
Six true Criollo varieties were discovered from the samples collected in Mindanao— they were found in the following areas: (Read: Celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy With Lussekatt – the St. Lucy Buns!)
- Maragusan province of Compostela Valley
- Municipality of Sarangani, Davao Occidental
- Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Davao
- University of Southern Mindanao Agricultural Research Center (USMARC), Cotabato
- Barangays Buena Vida and Garsika in Makilala, Cotabato Province
This is a remarkable discovery as Criollo is one of the cacao varieties that is high yielding and resistant to diseases.
Demand for Philippine Chocolate
Aside from Criollo, several other cacao varieties were discovered to have similar characteristics to the National Seed Industry Council’s (NSIC) recommended types. These recommended varieties of cacao “produce high yielding cacao trees and are resistant to diseases.”
The key findings in the DOST-PCAARRD research would help in addressing the demand for cacao in the country. In fact, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there was an 11.9% increase in the production of cacao in 2017 as compared to the previous year. Around 7,000 metric tons of cacao (cocoa beans) were produced that year. (Read: Vatican Archives Now Open to Researchers)
And as the years go by, the need for the ingredient increases, with farmers facing the issue of meeting the consumer demand. And this research will definitely help with that, and increase economic growth as well.