Kablon Farms (Philippines)
The Philippines has a long history of cacao farming. The crop was introduced in the 1700s when a Spanish colonist brought seedlings over to the islands from Mexico. Since then, it’s common practice for Filipino communities to consume cacao as drinking chocolate, not dissimilar from Maya communities throughout Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
Kablon Farms is a 70 hectare bio diversified, sustainable farm (3 locations with in a 10 km radius) in South Cotabato, in Davao, Philippines. The farm is owned by the Pantua family and the crop production is managed by the eldest sibling, Ernesto Pantua Jr. (who prefers to be called Jun), who grew up traveling to the same property when it belonged to his father. Jun grew up in an era when cacao and coconut prices were high; it was pre-globalization and these products were grown and consumed by the domestic market only. Today, these prices have sunk because the Philippines has to compete with other, larger producing countries that have introduced the hybrid high yielding cacao varieties with lower and or different production costs and methods.
Kablon Farms is paving the way for specialty, high quality cacao from the Philippines to change the low price dynamics that are seen across the country. Jun, with his university degree in agricultural engineering and upbringing on cacao and coconut farms, is uniquely poised to design a farm and provide a product that fits this bill.
The farm grows a mix of "criollo" (the cacao brought from Mexico in the 1700s) and newer hybrid genetics that were brought from Malaysia in the 1980s for disease resistance and higher yields. Organized into 9 zones, the farm runs fermentation trials with cacao from each zone, and from blends of zones, to generate different products with specific flavor profiles.