Among 235 cocoa samples from various countries, Jose Saguban also known as Nong Joe, made it as one of the world’s best cocoa producers and the prestigious International Cocoa Awards (ICA).
“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,” report from the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Region XI.
Respectively, Nong Joe is a smallholder cocoa farmer from Sitio Kialaw, Malabog, Paquibato District, Davao City.
“For as long as you adopt good farming practices and observe proper fermentation, you can produce high-quality cocoa beans,” he said as he emphasized the importance of conserving the biodiversity in cocoa farms.
He also added in his statement that his 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.
Based on the report from DA- Region XI, 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,” report added.
The success of Nong Joe for being one of the world’s best cocoa producers, may attribute in boosting the Philippine cacao industry. He was called as a countryside hero by 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.