Whittaker, the second-largest chocolate brand in New Zealand, behind Cadbury is opening its doors to sourcing cacao beans from Davao.

“We are coordinating with them of sourcing their beans from Davao and I think they are very receptive. Chocolate is one of the potentials that we would like to encourage since New Zealand produces a good New Zealand brand called Whittaker,” New Zealand Honorary Consul to Mindanao Vicente Lao said in an interview.

Cacao farmers in Mindanao, particularly in the Davao Region, see New Zealand as a fresh market for cacao beans. Lao said the embassy also supported the growing cacao beans in Davao Region.

Apart from cacao beans, Lao said they are encouraging NZ to look at the possibility of growing horticulture, fruits and vegetables in Mindanao.

“We would like them to look at the possibility of growing here and producing it all year round,” he said.

Lao also said he will be focusing on developing links in the agriculture sector so that Mindanao farmers and fisherfolk can tap into New Zealand technology and expertise for increasing production.

“New Zealand is not a very rich country but it has high technology when it comes to agriculture, marine, and forestry. We would like our farmers in Mindanao to take advantage of this technology,” he said.

He said New Zealand is very advanced in terms of mechanization given its limited human resources.

“The most important is the technology transfer. Nowadays, even in agriculture you have a lot of activities that automated and digitalized already. Even the ferlizers spreading and mapping of crops are done by drones,” Lao said.

These are the things that Lao would like to be replicated so that farmers from Mindanao will learn the advancement in agriculture.

“We would like to invite them to come and do the productions here because we don’t have four seasons we only have dry and rainy season,” he said.