Posted in Kafevend Blog
Today on the Kafevend blog, we are returning to the Philippines. Last week we were looking at the role coffee had to play in the history of the islands, but today we are going to be taking a more contemporary look at the fledgling cocoa industry on the Philippines, and where it might be going in the future- read on to find out!
Cocoa arrived in the Philippines a little before coffee did near the end of the 17th century. This isn't surprising, as the Spanish no doubt wanted to capitalise on the crop they had found when they conquered Central America. Whilst it was sidelined by coffee soon after it arrived in the next century, the cocoa plantations carried on quietly alongside coffee as the latter made its dramatic rise and fall. Today, the Philippines produce around 10,000 metric tons of cocoa. This is mainly grown on farms on the island of Mindano, the second largest island in the Philippines and the one that forms its southern edge. Conditions here, from the weather to the soil, are ideal for growing cocoa. The most common type grown of cocoa to be cultivated is the rare Criollo, which is typically much sought after by top quality chocolate makers.
It is the hope of some in the Philippines that it may well come to the rescue of chocoholics the world over in a few years' time. Currently, it imports around 80% of the cocoa it consumes. However, the Philippine 2020 Cacao Challenge running in the country is aiming to promote cocoa growing to farmers, with the hope that the Philippines will both become self sufficient in its supply and still have some left over for export. This is important, as the world is currently expected to meet a cocoa deficit by 2020 as demand increases- it has tripled since 1970! One of the big ways the initiative hopes to acheive this is through education for the farmers. One of the aspects they are trying to tackle is the process of fermenting the cocoa beans. If the farmers begin carrying out this process themselves, they will be able to produce higher quality beans that fetch more money for themselves on the market. No doubt the hope is that this extra income will in turn persuade more farmers to move to growing cocoa.
It is rather interesting then that the Philippines is attempting to get to a place where it can plug the growing gap in cocoa. It bears a remarkable similarity to its previous history with coffee, where its coffee industry bloomed as other countries lost production- those fond of their cocoa can only hope that history repeats itself in this particular case!