An award-winning cacao farmer from Bago City, Negros Occidental has high hopes of introducing the Negrense brand of cacao and chocolates to the global market.
Christopher Fadriga is one of the only three Filipinos who made it to the roster of best cocoa producers in the world of the Paris-based International Cocoa Awards (ICA) this year.
“The world is ready for our cacao and chocolates, we just need to grow more to meet the demand,” Fadriga said in a statement on Tuesday.
The ICA evaluated 235 cacao bean samples from more than 50 countries, and three from the Philippines were included in the roster of 2021 Best 50.
One of those belongs to Fadriga, who produces criollo, the most sought-after cacao variety because of its superior aroma, flavor, and taste, at his farm in Barangay Atipuluan.
“Our dream is to make Negros Occidental an heirloom cacao-producing province and home of the best-tasting chocolates grown by our passionate next-generation cacao farmers,” he said.
Cacao or cocoa beans are the main ingredient in making chocolates.
Fadriga also said the recognition given to cacao beans grown in the province shows that Negrenses can grow world-class agricultural crops.
“Negros is so blessed with rich volcanic soil and weather. Our highlands are our assets where we can develop other high-value crops like coffee, avocado, citrus, salad veggies, bamboo and so much more,” he added.
In a statement, Bago City Mayor Nicholas Yulo congratulated Fadriga for his achievement.
“It is truly a great honor for our city as one of its outstanding sons has made a name, not only for himself, but was able to catapult his home city to the chocolate map of the world,” he said.
Yulo said that Fadriga’s feat shows that Bago is not only “the rice bowl of Negros Occidental,” but also one of the world’s best in terms of cocoa production.
“His cacao beans planted and grown from the sweet soil of our city has enamored the discriminating taste of worldwide chocolate makers,” the mayor said.
In the Philippines, Fadriga was chosen as one of the four winners of the 2021 Philippine Cacao Quality Award, which recognizes superior quality and exceptional flavors of diverse cocoa varieties in the country.
The ICA, through the Cocoa Excellence Program, is a biennial global competition recognizing the value of the work of cocoa (cacao) farmers by providing them global recognition and celebrating the diversity of flavors from different origins.
The two other Filipino farmers recognized by the ICA are Arthur Lagoc of Davao City and Carlos Barsicula of San Isidro, Davao del Norte. (PNA)