By Lovely A. Carillo
A chocolate manufacturing firm based in the United States has tapped Davao Region farmers for the supply of up to 100,000 metric tons of cacao in the next five years.
But since no single cacao plantation has the capacity to supply cacao of that magnitude, no less than waling-waling queen of the south Charita Puentespina has been asked by the US chocolate firm Mars Inc., to consolidate the cacao harvests of the farmers within her area of responsibility.
Puentespina’s name has been synonymous with cutflowers ever since she mass-produced the orchid waling-waling (scientific name: Vanda Sanderiana) in 1985 through embryo culture. When she passed on the management of her orchid business to her children, she started her own love affair with cacao.
Mars, Inc., which has been doing business with Puentespina as a cacao consolidator since 1988, manufactures popular chocolate brands like M&M, Mars, Twix and Snickers, among others.
It is a $ 30-billion company with six business segments the world over including pet care, food, Symbioscience, Wrigley Gum and Confections, drinks, and chocolates.
Since then, Puentespina has consolidated all wet beans produced by farmers within a 25-kilometer radius from the Puentespina farm in Malagos, where a total of 17 hectares of the Puentespina Farm is planted to cacao.