ICA through the Cocoa Excellence (CoEX) Program is a biennial global competition recognizing the value of work of cocoa (cacao) farmers by providing them global recognition and celebrate the diversity of flavors from different origins in the world.

For the 2019 edition, the ICA received 223 samples from 55 cocoa-producing countries, ten of which from the Philippines and transformed into liquor and evaluated blindly (physical and sensory evaluation through blind codes) by the CoEX Technical Committee. Recently, CoEX released the 50 best samples of which one of the top producers is a Filipino farmer.

Introducing: Jose Saguban from Sitio Kialaw, Malabog, Paquibato District, Davao City. Nong Joe as he is fondly called in their village is a testament that even smallholder cocoa farmer from a remote area can be at par with the world's best.

"For as long as you adopt good farming practices and observe proper fermentation, you can produce high-quality cocoa beans," he said adding that biodiversity in cocoa farms must also be conserved.

"My cocoa trees are intercropped with fruit and forest trees as they create a cooler environment for my cocoa trees to thrive well and survive the heat especially during the dry season," he added.

As part of the new generation of cocoa pioneers in the world, Nong Joe will join the top 50 cocoa producers in the world for the International Cocoa Awards that will be celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, France from October 30 to November 3, 2019.

Nong Joe's recognition is a big boost to the Philippine cocoa industry at the same stands as the face of its inclusivity where even a smallholder farmer has a fair share and can even make it big in the International Cocoa Awards - renowned as the world's label of excellence in cocoa.

As one of the emerging countryside heroes, he serves as a unifying force for government, policymakers, farmer leaders, private sector, and other cocoa industry stakeholders to leverage his international recognition in expanding cocoa production in the country and in ensuring the sustainability of our country’s cocoa value chain. #CacaoDavao


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