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Harvesting success from seaweeds

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With seaweeds’ wide range of uses from food and fertilizer to cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, seaweed farming has rapidly grown into an industry that offers sustainable income and employment to fishers. The Philippines, one of the world’s biggest producers of the semi-processed seaweed product called Carageenan, cites seaweeds as its top aquaculture commodity, followed by milkfish and tilapia.

Seaweed farming has been generating livelihood for many coastal communities in the country since the 1970s. With seaweed farming not entirely limited to men, the industry has also opened livelihood opportunities for women, with some becoming economically active for only the first time.

Women Winning at Seaweeds

This has been the case for the members of the women’s organizations tapped by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Region V in the implementation of the project, "Product Development/Improvement and Commercialization of Seaweeds in Bicol Region".

Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), the project tapped existing organizations such as the Tabaco Faith International Church (TFIC) Ladies Association, Tobaco, Albay and Rural Improvement Club of Layog, Barcelona, Sorsogon,

Through the seminars and trainings that the team of BFAR V Research Manager Aida Andayog conducted, the members of these organizations were taught how to formulate, produce, develop, package and market food products processed from seaweeds.

“We also conducted trainings and held seminars to educate farmers and the organizations’ members on the principles of good manufacturing practices (GMP) and sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOP),” says Andayog. GMP and SSOP are prerequisites of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points Program (HACCP), an internationally recognized guarantee of the quality of food products.

Aside from these, Andayog takes pride in the tests that the group successfully conducted to really ensure the quality of their seaweed products. “Our products underwent sensory evaluation to assess the products’ appearance, odor, flavor and textures, and, more importantly, their nutritional value through nutritional evaluation. We also conducted microbiological analysis of our products, such as seaweed juice, pickled seaweeds and nata de seaweeds, as well as nutritional analysis of various seaweed-finished food products,” Andayog adds.

According to Nimfa B. Moreno, a seaweed processor and member of the TFIC Ladies Association, not only has the project provided the seaweed processors with additional knowledge on the processing of seaweed for food, thus increasing their income opportunities, but has also taught the people in the communities to use their time well by taking part in seaweed-related ventures. She says the biggest benefit of the project was that it made the people realize that they can help themselves through entrepreneurship, and this helps make sure that the purpose of the project will continue even after the project is concluded.

Seaweed-based products expand into enterprises

Aside from the commercialization of seaweeds and processed seaweed products in Bicol, the project also aimed to establish village-level seaweed production and processing enterprises, providing greater chances for Bicolano fisherfolk and seaweed processors to engage in agribusiness. Thus, to further pursue this goal, the project, “Commercialization of Seaweed Products and Other Fishery Value-Added products in Bicol Region,” was implemented by BFAR-Region V.

The demand for seaweed-based products can be easily met by the six Bicol provinces now actively engaged in seaweed farming: Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate, with Sorsogon being the top producer due to its vast coastal waters. To encourage even more fisherfolk and coastal communities to engage in seaweed farming and product development, various techno-demo and training activities were conducted by the projects.

The uniqueness, taste, and nutritional value of Bicol-made seaweed products, which Andayog noted as their competitive advantage, play a significant role in commercializing and marketing them. According to her, “Seaweeds are nutritious. They can help build and sustain the broad nutritional requirements and balance of vitamins, minerals and vital nutrients on which optimum health and vitality depend.”

In 2012, the TFIC Ladies group produced about two tons of pancit fortified with seaweeds which were marketed and sold in Manila and Cebu, even reaching as far as South Korea. Developed and packaged seaweed products were also displayed and marketed by the organization in various trade fairs and exhibits for product promotion and market-matching.

Seaweed pancit and nata de seaweed have both give the project beneficiaries return-on-investment (ROI) of 65 percent on the average, with annual net income hitting P93,600 and P15,360, respectively. Seaweed pickles yielded a net income of P34,512 with a 70 percent ROI.

Other food products derived from seaweed also posted high ROIs: seaweed marmalade (89%), candied dried seaweed (86%), seaweed chips (79%), seaweed cracknels (67%), seaweed chocolate (85%), seaweed tart (71%), seaweed morcon (94%), seaweed longanisa (66%), fish lumpia with seaweeds (76%) and yema with seaweeds (55%).

Seaweed products continue to provide extra income, not only to the women of the TFIC, but also to other organizations that BFAR Region V has trained. And, as these and other products to be developed improve in taste and quality, it will not be long before these become national and international hits, and good sources of health and wellness, income, and pride for the Bicolanos. ### (Mara Shyn Valdeabella)

Phl’s tilapia ice cream showcased in SIAL Canada 2017

2017-04-Tilapia ice cream on display at the SIAL Canada 2017The Philippine's very own “tilapia ice cream” was featured in Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) Canada 2017 on 2-4 May 2017 in Toronto, Canada drawing an interesting perception from attendees.

Developed by the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), tilapia ice cream won during the SIAL ASEAN-Manila 2016 held at the World Trade Center, Manila. The product received a gold medal as the Innovation World Winner. The DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) invited tilapia ice cream to be showcased during the SIAL ASEAN-Manila 2016.

BAR, under its National Technology Commercialization Program, supported the technology enhancement and commercialization of tilapia ice cream along with the developed tilapia cookies which were optimally aligned to consumers' preference.

As part of their award, they will join the world tour in other SIAL Exhibitions scheduled in Paris, Indonesia, Dubai, and China.

Attendance to these exhibitions serves as venue to inform attendees, especially Filipinos working abroad, on the other products of the Philippines. Filipinos who are based in Canada were able to visit the booth, and showed interest in other locally-produced products. They got excited in exploring possibilities on how they can bring and promote Philippine products and possibly invest as livelihood opportunities in their families back home.

SIAL is the North America's largest Food Innovation Trade Show showcasing products from 25 countries around the world. ### (MEAquino/DA-BAR):

Strengthening local macadamia production in Luzon through R&D

06The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry-Baguio National Crop Research Development and Production Support Center (BPI-BNCRDPSC) are working together on a research and development project that will help develop and promote the commercial production of macadamia in Luzon.

The project, “Macadamia Conservation, Propagation and Commercialization in Luzon,” targets to increase local macadamia production; improve farming systems and biodiversity through the integration of macadamia production; and make available quality macadamia seedlings. In achieving these, the project will characterize, evaluate, and conserve existing macadamia trees in Luzon; develop appropriate propagation methods; develop appropriate nursery management technologies; produce quality planting materials; and promote production through the establishment of a demonstration orchard and the dissemination of information materials.

The project has verified the adaptability of the macadamia tree to Baguio City conditions, taking into consideration the macadamia trees in the experimental station that have matured. At the BPI-Baguio experimental station, there are eight fully-grown macadamia trees that are about 15 years old and are already fruiting all year round. The trees show good promise of locally-grown macadamia for commercial production. Macadamia has the potential for commercial production, either as a cash crop or as a component of agroforestry systems. The introduction of macadamia into the existing production systems will enhance food production and biodiversity and industry development from its products and by-products.

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On-going verification trials on germination, grafting techniques, and use of cuttings for propagation are being done in the experimental station. Researchers are experimenting on several nursery management technologies using different potting media and soil additives. About 500 cuttings that were set under intermittent mist are now in the callous stage which will eventually produce roots. A total of 150 seedlings were asexually propagated and are being maintained through regular watering, fertilizer application, and pest and disease management.

The existing trees in the station are being maintained as sources of scions for grafting of seedlings and cuttings for propagation. The harvested nuts are used for seedling production. The researchers pointed out that, for the target of 1,500 quality planting materials of macadamia, a total of 1,007 seedlings (seedlings, grafted plants, and cuttings) have already been produced. Majority are seedlings which will still be grafted. Grafting is performed whenever there are seedlings available and scion branches are ready for use in propagation. In addition, 437 macadamia nuts that were sown are now starting to germinate. The harvesting of macadamia nuts is continuously being done since the existing macadamia trees are bearing continuously.

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Based on the investment analysis prepared by the project proponent for a one-hectare macadamia orchard, assuming that the initial capital is Php 205,000, positive returns could be realized in the 6th year with projected gross margin of Php 591,800 from the 10th year onwards, or a return on investment of 200 percent.

Considering further that macadamia production has a relatively low input requirement, it could be promoted as a cash crop for small farmers, and a potential crop in areas with inadequate irrigation systems or rainfall due to its relative tolerance to drought. In fact, macadamia plantings were also reported in Ilocos region which is a relatively dry area.

The project on macadamia conservation, propagation, and commercialization in Luzon is funded and supported under the National Technology Commercialization Program of DA-BAR. ### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca, DA-BAR)

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Juliet M. Ochasan
Project Leader 
BPI-BNCRDPSC 
Guisad, Baguio City
Tel. Nos.: (074) 445-9084/300-3584
Email Add.: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fruit winemaking in Cagayan Valley gets much needed boost

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Winemaking is one of the value-adding food processing activities that can be done with fruits to reduce postharvest losses. This is why the government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology, and other concerned agencies, is supportive of the initiatives for advancing the wine industry in the country, particularly the fruit wine industry.

With funding support from the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under its National Technology Commercialization Program, the Isabela State University-Cabagan, led by Dr. Raul B. Palaje, operationalized the project titled, “One Town, One Product Enterprise (OTOPE): Sustainable Fruit Wine Production and Commercialization in Cagayan Valley.” The two-year project aims to refine and standardize the package of technologies for local wine processing, and empower the people’s organizations (POs) through enhancement of their capacity in winemaking.

The team of Dr. Palaje assessed the status and needs of the local fruit wine industry in the region. As expected, there are already existing fruit-based wineries in the locality, with most of these wineries being either single proprietorship or village/organization-managed. They also noted that with research and development (R&D) support, these local wineries can be helped to further elevate their products through provision of technical assistance, skills development, improved marketing strategies and linkaging, and support to packaging, labeling, and equipment.

The OTOPE concept

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OTOPE is similar to the OTOP (One Town, One Product) concept of DTI which supports micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through identifying, developing, and promoting a specific product or service for each locality. Instead of distinct products or services, the OTOPE of ISU focuses on fruit crops. According to Dr. Palaje, the key to move OTOPE forward is for local wineries in Region 2 to adopt a standard processing technology and packaging for all the wine products of the region. For this reason, support on trainings and on wine technologies (e.g., winemaking equipment) are two of the main interventions provided by the project.

As a start, consultations were done with the local government units (LGUs) of Isabela, Cagayan, Batanes, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino to assess and evaluate the existing local wineries in these provinces. Because of this, the ISU was able to identify and tap the participation in the project of three single proprietorship (SP) businesses and four women’s organizations already engaged in wine production.

Sweet living through winemaking

Aside from the seven local wineries, another project cooperator and technology adopter is the newly-formed Cagayan Valley Integrated Farmers Association (CVIFA), composed of mango farmers and women of Libag Sur. The group was formed due to their common interest of engaging in winemaking as they do not want to suffer losses in their mango farming again. “Nagsimula kami magka-interes sa winemaking dahil sa hindi magandang karanasan ng mga mango farmers dito sa aming lugar. Two years ago, ang mga mangga ay binibili lang nang Php 5 per kilo. Halos 1/3 ng harvest namin ay napupunta lang sa waste kasi tinutusok ng kulisap ang mga bunga. Dahil dito ay bumaba talaga ang income ng mga mango farmers,” shared Mr. Danilo Guinto, CVIFA president.

The group, in their first attempt, was able to produce 2,000 bottles of various kinds of fruit wines such as mango, native guava, wild watermelon, pineapple, bignay, banana, guyabano, avocado, and mulberry. The group was also able to forge a partnership with LGU-Tuguegarao City for financial and in-kind assistance. CVIFA is still new in running the business, but because of their linkage with other stakeholders, they were able to place their products in several pasalubong centers in Tuguegarao City.

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Another project cooperator is Ms. Lorelie Valdez, owner of RLGV Fruit Wines. She ventured to winemaking due to her husband’s medical condition. It is known that wine has therapeutic properties as it contains polyphenols and other bioactive compounds that are antioxidant and antimicrobial. According to a number of scientific studies, moderate wine drinking protects against cardiovascular diseases, dietary cancers, ischemic stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, peptic ulcers, kidney stones, and macular degeneration, among others.

The hobby became a business opportunity because of the persuasion of family and friends who have tasted her homemade wine. Since she started the business in 2010, RLGV Fruit Wines now has a captive market in Isabela. Its wines are distributed to a number of supermarkets and other market outlets in Isabela and neighboring provinces.

Being in a place blessed with a variety and abundance of fruit species, it is not surprising that different kinds of fruit wines are finding their niches in the market. With institutions such as ISU that contribute to the development of the local fruit wine industry, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world will have a taste of Filipino fruit wines. ### (Diana Rose A. de Leon, DA-BAR)

For more information, please contact: 
Dr. Raul B. Palaje
Project Proponent
ISU-Cabagan Campus
Contact No.: 0917-866-9206
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Group of women farmers in Zamboanga del Sur benefits from Soybean R&D

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A women-led farmers’ association residing in Barangay Bigong, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur is now reaping the fruits of their labor from soybean R&D interventions introduced to them by the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 9 (DA-RFO 9) and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

Established in 1998, the Kahugpungan sa Mga Mag Uuma/Mamumuong Kababayen-An (KASAMMAKA) Inc., or the “Organization of Women Farmers and Workers,” was formed and created to meet the basic needs of women, empower them, and establish livelihoods through organic farming, among others. These advocacies were initially carried out and promoted by roughly 200 original members following its creation. To date, the same principles are still being pursued by about 2,000 KASAMMAKA members.

Throughout their farming history, these women farmers are producing organically-grown rice, corn, vegetables, fruits, and other root crops; and are into raising livestock and poultry animals in their area. To the people of Barangay Bigong, everyday living is a challenge to reckon with. Their harvests dictate the quality of living and the amount of personal gains.

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Unknown to them, their efforts as individuals, as an association, and as organic farming advocates were not left unnoticed by the DA-RFO 9 and BAR with the implementation of the project titled, “Building a Sustainable Soybean Industry in the Philippines.” BAR funded and supported the endeavor which has a component involving the development of commercial organic soybean in the region whose objectives are: to promote organic soybean as an important legume in Region 9; to demonstrate organic soybean production technology; to make available organic seeds of recommended soybean varieties; and to improve the skills and capabilities of farmers in organic soya product, processing, and utilization. In addition, it has four implementation mechanics, namely: 1) technology demonstration trials; 2) seed and commercial production; 3) product development, processing, utilization and promotion; and 4) enterprise/market development.

In the promotion of soybean production and processing in the region, the KASAMMAKA was tapped as one of the organizations with farmer-cooperators engaged to produce, process, and market soybean products. Through the Zamboanga Peninsula Integrated Agricultural Research Center (ZAMPIARC) of DA-RFO 9, the association was provided with 200 kilos of organic soybean seeds which were planted in their four-hectare farming area. The projected average production of soybean achieved in Tigbao, Zamboanga Del Sur is 550 kilograms per hectare.

Prior to their engagement in the project, KASAMMAKA members attended training programs on soybean production and processing sponsored by ZAMPIARC. Since then, the association has become actively involved in farming organically-grown soybeans.

Through the funding support of BAR and the assistance of the region in terms of training and seed support, the association was able to produce and process soymilk, soycoffee, and soya meat balls. With their farming experience and entrepreneurial ability, the group is now selling soycoffee at P200.00 per kilo, and soymilk at P50.00 per liter, while the soya meat balls (fishball size) are being sold at P2.00 per piece.

To reciprocate the government’s assistance, which is part of the agreement between the DA-RFO 9 and BAR, the association returned the 200 kilos of seeds given to them. This will then be re-distributed to the next identified farmer-cooperators in the province.

The group, which is now tagged as small-scale farmer entrepreneurs, plans to improve their products in terms of labeling and packaging, and aims to penetrate larger markets in the province.

KASAMMAKA is one of the frontrunners of the government’s campaign for sustainable agriculture in Zamboanga del Sur. Ms. Porferia Carpina, one of the founders of the organization and spokesperson of the group, admitted that the interventions of the DA-RFO 9 and BAR provided them with the livelihood flexibility in producing and marketing soybean products. To them, engaging in the soybean farming business has given them a sense of pride and fulfillment. ### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca, DA-BAR)