Saturday, April 12, 2014

Strangled Cacao: Debunking Coconut-Cacao Inter-cropping?

The account and personal experience below  of Mr. Lazaro was pointed out to me by Mr. Wiley of DCF when I visited their farm. I mentioned to them that I saw an article about inter-cropping cacao and coconut so I shared it on this blog through these posts:

An excerpt from the book:
One big mistake Lazaro distinctly remembers is a decision he made while still with the Benguet Corporation, when he strangled... cacao. "I wanted to move into the agricultural filed in a non-traditional way, so we identified a location that appeared ideal for citrus development. We spent a lot of money to develop the farm, but it did not produce the kinds of fruits we wanted. We planted cacao under coconut trees because cacao needs shade, and we thought there was a symbiosis between the two - we could fertilize the cacao and the coconut at the same time. But we ended up with two cropfields that lost a lot of money because, as we fertilized cacao. which is the higher value crop, the roots of the coconut went after the fertilizer, and you know the roots of the coconut are so strong so they eventually strangled the cacao. We produced coconuts that were so big, but lost the higher value crop, the cacao, was lost."
How to deal with such a blunder? Lazaro is quick to answer:"You just accept it and write it of."

Extraordinary Stories for Aspiring Leaders
Editors, Victor L. Madaraog and Nikki Katherine M. Dy-Liacco
page 121, Anvil, 2008

The book features fifty-one extraordinary men and women business leaders whose life challenges, experiences and achievements have given them insights into the kind of leadership that inspires, ignites and propels positive change in our society. Written for aspiring leaders, this book features extraordinary accounts that can inspire and instill hope for those who are searching for present-day role models.

I will verify with PCA if they have farms to demonstrate and validate what they've proposed is really working and will contradict the account above. Perhaps there are farms that would prove PCA's suggestion is really effective based on their own experience and I would like to visit and see the place for myself, because I am even proposing such scheme to a group of farmers in Quezon. Now I have to refrain from pursuing  the suggestion until I have personally verified it myself.

Hope readers of this blog could point me if there are farms that effectively, efficiently, and productively inter-crop of cacao and coconut. Would appreciate any lead. Salamat po.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chocolates in the Philippines by Joy Kristel L. Orzales

The Sweet World of Chocolates in the Philippines1

April 2011

Joy Kristel L. Orzales
Center for Food and Agri Business
University of Asia and the Pacific
Chocolate is one of the most craved foods in the world. Ever wondered why many people turn to chocolates when they are sad?

Studies show that chocolates have many chemicals that interact with the brain and enhance the mood. Some of the known chemicals are anandamide that causes the feeling of well-being, phenylephylamine that changes the blood pressure and blood sugar and increases the pulse rate similar to the feeling when in love, and endorphin, better known as the happy hormone, because it can lessen pain and decrease stress. This is the reason why there is a steady demand for chocolates all around the globe.


Chocolate manufacturing is a billion peso industry in the country. Based on the latest Census of Philippine Business Industry (2006), there are eight local establishments with total employment of 20 and above that manufacture chocolate and cocoa products including chocolate candies with total revenues of P3 billion.

Meanwhile, according to the National Statistics Office-Family Income and Expenditure Survey, Filipinos spent P4.8 billion in 2009 for sugar products that consist of candies and chocolates, among others. Spending was up by 10 percent per annum from P3.6 billion in 2006, or 4.7 percent per annum if adjusted for inflation.


The Philippines is a net importer of chocolates. The trade deficit (exports minus imports) increased by 15.7 percent per annum from US$2.1 million in 2006 to US$3.7 million in 2010.

Imports. In 2010, the country imported 1,818 tons of chocolates valued at US$5.4 million. There was a decrease of 0.5 percent per annum from 2,166 tons (US$4.2 million) in 2006. Imports peaked in 2009 at 3,051 tons valued at US$8.2 million.
Figure 1. Total Volume and Value of Chocolate Imports*, 2006-2010
(Volume in tons, CIF value in US$ '000)
Figure 1: Description of this image follows
Figure 1. Total Volume and Value of Chocolate Imports*, 2006-2010: In 2010, the country imported 1,818 tons of chocolates valued at US$5.4 million. There was a decrease of 0.5 percent per annum from 2,166 tons (US$4.2 million) in 2006. Imports peaked in 2009 at 3,051 tons valued at US$8.2 million.
* includes chocolate confectionery and white chocolate
Source: BAS
The United States (US) was the major source of chocolates from 2006 to 2010 except in 2007 where Malaysia was the major origin. In 2010, it supplied 361 tons valued at US$534 thousand, which was 20 percent of total imports. Other leading sources of chocolates during the year were Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, and China.

The popular brands imported from the US are Hershey's, Mars, Snickers, and M&M. Gandour chocolates like Tofiluk, Demolino, and Safari are from Saudi Arabia. Delfi chocolates like Delfi Chocolate Sticks and Chic Choc biscuits are from Singapore under the management of Petra Foods Ltd.

Exports. Philippine exports of chocolates were volatile from 2006 to 2010, with peak in 2007 at 898 tons valued at US$2.8 million. Exports decreased from 747 tons (US$2.1 million) in 2006 to 591 tons (US$1.7 million) in 2010. Volumes contracted by an average of 2.6 percent per annum although export values increased during the period.
Figure 2. Total Volume and Value of Chocolate Exports, 2006-2010
(Volume in tons, FOB value in US$'000)
Figure 2: Description of this image follows.
Figure 2. Total Volume and Value of Chocolate Exports, 2006-2010: Philippine exports of chocolates were volatile from 2006 to 2010, with peak in 2007 at 898 tons valued at US$2.8 million. Exports decreased from 747 tons (US$2.1 million) in 2006 to 591 tons (US$1.7 million) in 2010. Volumes contracted by an average of 2.6 percent per annum although export values increased during the period
Source: BAS
In 2010, Korea was the major market of Philippine chocolates, followed by Canada and the US.

Key Players

There are several companies engaged in chocolate manufacturing in the country. The three largest are Universal Robina Corporation, Commonwealth Foods, Inc. and Goya, Inc. under Delfi Foods Inc.
  • Universal Robina Corporation. Universal Robina Corporation (URC) is the market leader in chocolates and the leading branded convenience food and beverage company in the Philippines. It manufactures enrobed chocolates and panned chocolates. Its popular enrobed chocolate brands are Cloud 9, Big Bang, Chooey, and Monster Munch while its panned chocolate, Nips, is the most popular in its category. It also exports chocolates to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
  • Commonwealth Foods, Inc. Commonwealth Foods, Inc. (Comfoods) is a manufacturer of chocolates as well as other products like coffee, cookies, biscuits, milk products, coffee beans, flour, and sugar. Its chocolate brands are Flat Tops, Curly Tops, Choco Mallows, and Chocolate Crunchies.
  • Goya, Inc. Goya, Inc. is now under Delfi Foods Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Petra Foods Inc., a Singapore-based manufacturer of branded consumer confectionery. Delfi bought the manufacturing plant and sales and distribution assets of Nestle Philippines together with Goya for an aggregate deal of US$5 million in March 2006. Currently, Knick Knacks and all of the Goya products are under Petra's subsidiary in the Philippines. Delfi Foods Inc. had net sales of P1.2 billion in 2009, according to Business World's Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines. The popular Goya products are chocolate coins and eggs.
  • Other players. There are other chocolate manufacturers like Multirich Foods Corp. (Choco Mucho), Columbia International Food Products Inc. (Klicx Cruncher and Chocquick bars), Monde Nissin (Snitch Choco Bar), Twin Oaks Foods Corp. (Mayfair), Stateline Snack Food Corp. (Stateline Nimble Chocolates), New Unity Sweets Mfg. Corp. (Choc-Nut), Annie Candy Manufacturing (Hany Milk Chocolate), and Gracepoint Enterprises (Lala).
Aside from the manufacturers, there are also importers and distributors in the industry. These include Nestlé Philippines Inc. (Kitkat and Crunch), Hershey's Philippines Inc. (Hershey's Kisses and Hershey's Milk Chocolates), Valiant Distribution Inc. (Hershey's Kisses), Cadbury Adams (Philippines) Inc. (Cadbury), Grand Dragon Ent. Inc. (Meiji chocolates, Yan Yan and Hello Panda), Mars Philippines Inc. (Mars, M&M, Snickers, and Malteeser), Sweetie Shoppe Inc. (Toblerone), Gandour Philippines Inc. (Tofiluk, Demolino, Safari, and Pik-One), Kenda International Inc. (Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Frey, Swiss Delice, and Rittersport), Delfi Marketing Inc. (Delfi), Mega Marketing Inc. (Ferrero Rocher and Ferrero Tronky), and Rustan Marketing Specialists, Inc. (Marks and Spencer).

There are also kiosks that sell high-end chocolates like Royce' and Leonidas. Royce' is a Japanese chocolate manufactured by Royce' Confect Co., Ltd. which offers chocolate-powdered chocolates that melts in the mouth. Royce' chocolates cost more than P500 for a 20-piece chocolate box. Kiosks can be seen at Powerplant Mall and Greenbelt 5 in Makati, Trinoma Mall and Eastwood Mall in Quezon City, and Robinson's Place in Manila.

Meanwhile, Leonidas is a Belgian brand that offers 100 percent pure cocoa butter for the coating with many flavors available. The price ranges from P1,700 to P3,500 for tin cans, P250 to P2,500 for boxes, and P200 for singles. Leonidas kiosks are located at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, Alabang Town Center in Ayala-Alabang, The Podium in Ortigas, and Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong.

Prices and Distribution

People can buy local chocolate bars for as low as P4.95 for a 28-gram (g) Klicx Cruncher or Chocquick to as high as P78.50 for a Goya Chunky chocolate. Meanwhile, packed chocolate prices ranged from P21.50 (Curly Tops, 15 pieces) to P154.50 (Goya chocolate coins). Imported chocolates are much more expensive. Prices can vary from as low of P20.00 (Nestle Kitkat) to as high as P149.50 (Lindt Almond) for chocolate bars and from P54.50 (Ferrero Rocher, 3 pieces) to P564.50 (Ferrero Rocher, 30 pieces) for packed chocolates.

Table 1 shows the indicative prices of selected imported and local chocolates.
Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos)
Chocolates Imported (90-100g)Price
Lindt Almond149.50
Lindt Double Milk139.50
Frey Classiq84.50
Rittersport White83.50
Toblerone Chocolate84.50
Toblerone White91.50
Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Imported (90-100g)Price
Goya Chunky78.50
Goya Indulgence78.50
Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Imported  (35-55g)Price
Nestle Kitkat20.00
Butterfinger Crisp31.50
Nestle Crunch31.50
Snickers Almonds44.50
Snickers Classic31.50
Toblerone White46.50
Toblerone Chocolate44.50
Cadburry Dairy Milk42.50
M&M peanut31.50
Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Local (35-55g)Price
Goya Cookies n' Cream18.50
Goya Almond Choco17.50
Goya Milk Choco17.50
Goya Strawberry n' Cream17.50
Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Local (25-30g)Price
Cloud 9 Crunchy6.50
Cloud 9 Berry Burst5.95
Cloud 9 Nougat5.95
Goya O' Nuts15.00
Goya Dark Chocolate19.50
Goya Intense Dark28.50
Choco Mucho5.50
Klicx Cruncher4.95
Snitch Chocolate Bar5.50

Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Imported  (In Packs)Price
Ferrero Rocher, 30 pieces564.50
Ferrero Rocher, 16 pieces314.50
Ferrero Rocher, 5 pieces99.50
Ferrero Rocher,3 pieces54.50
Ferrero Tronky, 108g 6's112.50
Hershey's Kisses, 235 g239.50
Hershey's Kisses Almonds, 235g239.50

Table 1. Indicative Prices of Selected Imported and Local Chocolates
(in pesos) - continued
Chocolates Local (In Packs)Price
Flat tops, 30's38.50
Choc-Nut, 24's33.50
Curly tops, 15's21.50
Curly tops, 24's34.50
Goya Chocolate coins, 500 g154.50
Goya Silver cups, 420 g104.50
Source: Selected Supermarkets in Metro Manila, March 2011

Chocolates are patronized by people from all ages and gender. They are highly in demand during the months of February (Valentine's Day) and December (Christmas) because people usually give them as gifts.

Chocolates can be bought in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, drugstores, department stores, and duty free shops. They are usually packed in foil or boxes.

Challenges and Opportunities

Local chocolate manufacturers face several challenges. For one, production of cocoa, a key raw material, remains lacking in terms of both quantity and quality. It also has to be shared by different industries like beverage, baking, ice cream, food service, and chocolate, among others.

Manufacturers are also affected by the rising prices of sugar, another important ingredient. In late March this year, the retail price for refined sugar stood at P64 per kilogram (kg) from only P53 per kg during the comparable period last year.

Aside from the price of sugar, tariff is also a concern. The current tariff imposed on imported sugar is higher than the tariff for processed chocolate imports. Since 2009, the tariff is 38 percent for in-quota and out-quota shipments from countries under the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and 50 percent for in-quota and 65 percent for out-quota from other countries. This is higher than the tariff imposed on processed chocolates which is zero for AFTA countries and seven percent from other countries. This puts local chocolate manufacturers at a disadvantage compared to just importing processed chocolates. Tariff on sugar though will be lowered to 18 percent in 2013 and to five percent by 2015 for AFTA countries.

The lower tariff on chocolates has also led to intensified competition between local and imported chocolates. Local producers have to exert more effort to be competitive in the local market.
Amid the challenges, there are opportunities in the local and international markets. The advantage that local chocolate manufacturers have is the ability to cater to the majority of the population by offering low- to mid-priced chocolates in small packages. They also pursue continuous product innovations to cater to changing consumer tastes and preferences. Some have products which are already comparable with imported brands.

There are also international chocolate manufacturers like Askinosie Chocolate and Mars, Inc. thathave started to import Philippine cacao. Askinosie Chocolate sources out some of its cocoa bean requirements from Davao. Mars, Inc. has established a Mars Cocoa Development Center in Davao to help farmers produce quality cocoa beans, which has started to import at market value. This shows that the Philippines has the potential to produce high quality chocolates that can compete in the international market.

An increase in the production of high quality cacao beans will help propel the local chocolate industry. In this regard, the government provides support in terms of improving the production of high quality cacao beans such as Criollo. A research, development, and extension program for cacao from 2008 to 2012 has been funded by Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR). The agency's National Research and Development Extension Agenda and Programs for 2011 to 2015 has listed cacao as a priority crop. The DA Agri-Pinoy High Value Crops Development Program also includes cacao production that will give the farmers technical assistance, technologies, and choice planting materials.

There are also programs for the development of the local cacao industry initiated by private organizations such as Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines (CocoaPhil), a non-stock and non-profit organization of farmers, cacao buyers and processors, and professionals. A cocoa road map, which aims to plant 50 million cacao trees by 2020 to supply the demand of 30,000 tons of cacao beans per year by the local manufacturers, was initiated by CocoaPhil and the Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), a US-based non-government organization. ACDI/VOCA also implemented the SUCCESS Alliance program aimed to improve cocoa production and marketing linkages in the country from 2002 to 2005 for the first phase and 2006 to 2009 for the second phase. The project was funded by US Agency for International Development and US Department of Agriculture (USDA), respectively.
Another project of ACDI/VOCA is the CoCoPal (Cocoa, Coconut, and Palayamanan), a three-year USDA-funded project that aims to equip the farmers with skills and introduce them to new technologies so they can produce beans and sell premium black chocolate that will pass international standards. This project started in 2010, in collaboration with four local agencies: CocoaPhil, PhilRice, Landcare Foundation, and Philippine Association of Small Coconut Farmers.

All these initiatives to increase the production of high quality cacao beans will help boost the local chocolate industry. And hopefully, the industry will enjoy sweet success in the future.

  • BusinessWorld Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines 2010.
  • Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.
  • Galvez, Marie Annette. A Bite of the Philippine Chocolate Industry. Food and Agri Business Monitor. University of Asia and the Pacific. August 2001.
  • National Statistics Office. Census of Philippine Business Industry, 2006 and 2009.Family Income and Expenditure Survey, 2006 and 2009.
  • Philippine Sugar Millers Association. Retail Prices of Refined Sugar (monthly
  • Philippine Tariff Commission. ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature Book 2010 MFN Rates.
  • Remo, Amy. Cocoa: Answer to RP's need for a cash crop? Manila Bulletin, May 24, 2008.
  • Sarian, Zac. Ambitious Cacao Production Program. Manila Bulletin, March 4, 2011.

Various company websites.


1. Published in the April 2011 issue of the Food and Agri Business Monitor, a monthly magazine of the University of Asia and the Pacific's Center for Food and Agri Business, Pasig City, Philippines.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Global Approaches to Cacao Germplasm Utilization and Conservation by Eskes and Efron

Source -

Cocoa is a commodity produced in the developing countries of the tropics and consumed mostly in the middle- and high-income countries of the world's temperate zones. Currently, over 50 countries engage in cocoa production, of which some heavily rely on cocoa exports for their economic development as they contribute significantly to their foreign exchange earnings.

From a level of 1.5 million tonnes in 1983-84, world production of cocoa beans is steadily rising and has reached a peak of 3.5 million tonnes in 2003-04. This significant increase is almost entirely due to an expansion of production area. Over 90% of world cocoa is produced by smallholder farmers who rely almost entirely on the supply of improved planting material from national and international research institutes. Nearly all producing countries grow cocoa on an extensive basis resulting in low average yields, which - on global average - have only increased little over the past three decades. This contrasts with the often dramatic advances in yields of other tropical or temperate crops and in particular for other raw materials, often used to manufacture snack foods which are competitive with cocoa. Gains in global yield and productivity of cocoa are now essential. As pressure on available land increases, the need for higher yielding, pest- and disease-resistant cocoa varieties becomes ever more urgent. This Technical Paper is the result of work undertaken in the CFC/ICCO/IPGRI project: "Cocoa Germplasm Utilization and Conservation: a Global Approach", which aimed at a more sustainable production of cocoa at lower costs, by making optimal use of cocoa germplasm. Special attention was paid to the evaluation and selection of resistance to some of the major diseases and pests, such as black pod, witches' broom, vascular streak dieback, moniliasis, cocoa swollen shoot virus and mirids, which together cause losses of an estimated 40% percent of annual world cocoa production. The Common Fund for Commodities acknowledges the significant inputs of both the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) as Project Supervisory Body, and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) as Project Executing Agency for the successful implementation of the project in 12 countries. In line with the policy to disseminate the information produced by activities financed by the Fund, it is my expectation that this publication will be instrumental to make the results and experiences of this project available to a wider audience. It is hoped that extension workers, researchers and policy-makers would find this publication useful and relevant for improving access of higher yielding, good bean quality and disease-resistant cocoa varieties to farmers.

Category: Technical guidelines/Technical bulletins
Author: Eskes, A.B.; Efron, Y. (eds.)
Corporate Author: International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), London (United Kingdom); International Plant Genetic Resources Instit., (IPGRI), Rome (Italy)
Pages: 224 p.
Publication Year: 2006
Publication Format: A4; PDF
ISBN-10: 92-9043-734-0
ISBN-13: 978-92-9043-734-5
Language: EN

Monday, March 10, 2014

World Cocoa Conference 2014

The 2014 World Cocoa Conference is being organized by the International Cocoa Organization ( and will be hosted by the government of The Netherlands. 

With the theme 'Towards a Sustainable Cocoa Economy', the second edition of the World Cocoa Conference, will look at the progress made in achieving the goals outlined in the Global Cocoa Agenda and the Abidjan Cocoa Declaration, signed by the key stakeholders at the first edition in Cote d'Ivoire in 2012. 

Scheduled for 9-13 June, 2014, in Amsterdam, the event will include a wide-ranging and very international Conference focusing on all the important issues in the cocoa and chocolate industry, an Exhibition showing the latest products and services available to the sector, a Conference Dinner, sightseeing, site visits and more.

Sustainable cocoa is a major goal, and the Conference will look at the ways in which major cocoa and chocolate companies, national governments of producing and consuming countries, and NGOs and development agencies are tackling the issues involved.

Check website here -

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification

While doing research on cacao certification I was led to ICCO website and found out lots of documents from their site. The Philippines is not yet a member of ICCO give that it is not producing big quantity of cacao/cocoa, but forward looking, the Philippine government should consider becoming a member with the renewed enthusiasm of cacao growers and farmers to plant more cacao trees and produce tons of cocoa.

This is a good read and reference but what I am after is a standard also for organic cacao, still this is a good basis for setting up such standards. In the framework though - dominance of profit over planet and people seems to me a very striking representation on the issue of sustainability. What would be the more appropriate representation for this diagram - that's the challenged that ought to be addressed!

The following are the main description of the framework:

Basic People (Social Responsibility) Principles
There is no specific definition of social sustainability and there is strong overlap and influence of the other dimensions. For the purposes of this discussion, the social dimension places people at the center. Focusing on commonalities of initiatives operating in the cocoa sector, issues of Human Rights, Communities, Labor Rights and Working Conditions (including Health and Safety) are included. These principles also consider The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the Ethical Trading Initiative and Social Accountability International's SA8000 standard. Italicized issues have a high degree of overlap but not consistently across other initiatives.

Basic Planet (Environmental) Principles
Responsible environmental stewardship in cocoa‐farms and communities. Sustainable cocoa farming seeks to utilize natural resources in such a way that they can regenerate their productive capacity, and also minimize harmful impacts on ecosystems beyond a farm boundary.

Basic Profit (Economic) Principles
The viability of cocoa farming systems depends on its ability to contribute to the economic security of the key actors. At the farm level, economic viability security includes individual producers, producer groups, as well as maintaining household economic security while maintaining or increasing the quality of life for farm families and workers. Historically, the goal of economic viability and sustainable farmer livelihoods has been an assumption of outcomes of the sustainability standards, not necessarily integrated into the standard requirements.

Sustainable Cocoa and Certification
Working Document for Direct Dialogues workshop 
March 6th‐ 7th, 2014
February 22, 2014
Prepared for the ICCO
Aimee Russillo

Source -


Demand for “sustainable” cocoa in developed countries has been increasing and major chocolate manufacturers such as Mars Incorporated, Mondeléz International, Nestlé, Ferrero and Hershey have now publicly committed to source only cocoa that is certified sustainable that will eventually reach 100% fully certified by 2020. As these five leading companies represent about 50% of global cocoa use, the impact of such a strong commitment on the cocoa supply chain cannot be underestimated. This commitment and partnerships with voluntary sustainability standards has driven double and triple digit growth across the major sustainability standard schemes active in the sector (Fairtrade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified). Global market penetration over the four years to 2012 as expanded from 3% to 22% according to a recently released report.1

Of concern to some stakeholders is that the current models are certifying the status quo i.e. cocoa producers that are already well organized in successful cooperatives who can more easily meet (or invest in) compliance requirements. Due to the relative early stages of the sector, voluntary standard systems have most likely focused on those early adopters as “the low hanging fruits”. Considering that poverty represents one of the main sustainability issues of commodity production more generally, the vast majority of cocoa farmers remain marginalized and unable to benefit from certification. Evidence on economic gains through certification for cocoa producers is still scarce.

In addition, The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has developed a technical committee as part of an ISO process to develop a sustainable and traceable cocoa standard CEN/TC 415. Most recently, the ISO/TC 34 working group 4 on cocoa has been elevated to a subcommittee designed to ensure more producing country participation. Some industry players have also developed their own sustainable cocoa programs and codes for their supply chains.

In view of multiplicity of standards and perceived limitations, (including relevance and applicability to local conditions and capacities), national authorities in some producing countries are now considering developing their own criteria to promote sustainable cocoa. A national standard may offer the advantage of including sector experience and thus making standards requirements more adapted to local reality, as well as improve smallholder access. These efforts are generally harmonized around standard criteria for certification. It remains to be seen whether the recent establishment of the ISO/TC 34 cocoa sub‐committee, with equal participation of producing countries, will integrate any current national level efforts.

Multiple standards are not necessarily a negative thing. Different standards with different approaches offer farmers, producer groups and buyers the opportunity for choice and alternatives that best suit their needs and interests. A marketplace with options can lead to real innovation and can drive performance improvement of the standards through competition. However, the proliferation of certification initiatives at the national, international, private and public levels, all claiming to achieve sustainability and targeting the same cocoa producers, has led to confusion and supply chain pressure to the detriment of smallholders. One of the main challenges is how each of the different systems defines sustainability and how they can complement one another.

Lack of Common Definition for Sustainability

Yet, there is no common agreement on what “sustainable” cocoa means, with some overlap between private, public and national efforts. Numerous past and current initiatives have attempted to address this challenge including The Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy (RSCE), ISEAL, GIZ's Cocoa Forum, the World Cocoa Foundation among others. Despite considerable efforts made to harmonize the criteria and approach to measure and reward sustainability, there is a general recognition among cocoa stakeholders that much remains to be done. With the scale and complexity of the challenges in the sector, more cooperation is essential to secure social responsibility, environmental stewardship and economical viability for a sustainable cocoa economy. Different approaches towards sustainable cocoa production are needed and there is increasing attention for solutions in the pre‐competitive domain.

Moving Forward Collaboratively

Against this background, the ICCO organized an international workshop on cocoa certification which was held in Cameroon in June 2013. A recommendation from the workshop was that the ICCO would facilitate a follow‐up workshop, called direct dialogue, initially between the cocoa and chocolate industry and cocoa producing /exporting countries. Subsequently, it was recognized that the inclusion of all stakeholders, including NGOs, development organizations and standard systems were necessary for this direct dialogue.

The follow up workshop has been developed in coordination with the United Nations Forum on  sustainability Standards (UNFSS) and takes place early March 2014. Participation will include representatives from cocoa producing countries and the cocoa and chocolate industry, as well as private voluntary standards schemes, CEN/ISO and national standards either already established or being considered by cocoa‐producing countries.

1The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014: Standards and the Green Economy.

Read more -

Sunday, March 2, 2014

CNN on Cocoa-nomics


This CNN cocoa-nomics infographics is very interesting. Philippines is consuming (import data, I suppose) more cacao and chocolate than it is producing. But one thing missing for sure in this data is households use of cacao for drink that is tablea. There are several households scattered in the whole Philippines that grow in their backyard cacao and make their own tableya for drink (or use to flavor champorado and other dish). I have yet to see data on this regard. So the data above is informed mostly of those importations made by the country.

Below are several article and video links on CNN's take on Chocolate or cocoa-nomics:

CNN Short Videos/Teasers (take time to stream - slow connection):
Cocoa farmers taste chocolate for first time
'Cocoa-nomics': The issue of child labour
'Cocoa-nomics': Certified child free cocoa
Schedule of documentary showing
‘Cocoanomics’ can also be seen at the following times:
Thursday 27 February at 2100 GMT / 2200 CET
Friday 28 February at 0400 GMT / 0500 CET and 1030 GMT / 1130 CET
Saturday 1 March at 1400 GMT / 1500 CET and 1130 GMT / 1230 CET
Sunday 2 March at 1030 GMT / 1130 CET and 1930 GMT / 2030 CET
Monday 3 March at 0100 GMT / 0200 CET, 0430 GMT / 0530 CET and 0830 GMT / 0930 CET
Wednesday 5 March at 1730 GMT / 1830 CET


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Online Course on Cacao Production

I found this online and sharing it here for all those interested to know more about cacao production, growing or farming. I hope that this kind of training gets translated in the different Philippine languages to benefit more people especially cacao farmers.

The production of good quality cacao beans starts with the right variety or clones. It is then assured with the adoption of appropriate tree culture and farm practices, harvesting, fermentation and drying. It requires conscious effort on the part of the farmers to ensure that cacao beans meet the standard of quality required in the market.
While this concern addresses the economic and well being of a cacao farmer, he should also be responsible in assuring the well being of the future cacao farmers. The farmer’s endeavor must, therefore, be hinged on the concept of sustainability and environmental accountability.

The farmer’s effort necessitates continued support primarily in terms of technology and market updates. The availability, accessibility and timeliness of such information obtained at least cost, are major enabling factors to farmers to arrive at sound farm decisions. This context emphasizes the significant role of the extension agents and the farmer-leaders as links between farmers and technology sources, as well as between farmers and the market. Thus, the extension capabilities of the extension agents and the farmer-leaders should be enhanced to help the cacao farmers maintain a steady source of income and be at the mainstream of the cacao industry.

This eLearning module shall be a friendly guide on the verified technologies and practices on cacao production that could share when they conduct training to farmers. It contains basic steps, methodologies, practices and considerations in growing cacao based on technologies from both private and public research institutions.

If this is your first experience of an eLearning program, click here to get started and learn how to navigate through the program, find out what different icons mean and know how to get support. Make sure you also familiarize yourself with this program before starting.

Otherwise, if you are ready to begin the Cacao Production program, click the topics below for the lesson links:

Establishment of Budwood Garden or Scion Grove

Establishment and Management of Cacao Nursery

Propagation of Planting Materials

Field Planting


Plant Nutrition

Making Compost Using Pod Husks

Management of Common Cacao Pests and Diseases

Harvesting and Post Harvest Operations

Standard Quality Specification


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