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Sweet delight from Nipa Palm

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Nipa Palm (Nypa fruticans), a species of palm that grows along the coastlines and estuarine habitats, is commonly used in the Philippines as roofing material for bahay kubo or is processed as vinegar (sukang paombong) or wine (laksoy). A group of enterprising farmers in Surigao del Sur are now engaged in producing another product - natural sweetener from Nipa Palm.

Nipa palm sugar, with lower glycemic index, looks almost like coco sap sugar, being granulated from the sap of the Nipa Palm. Given its promising potential amid the increasing demand for organic products, the Foundation for Rural Enterprise and Ecology Development of Mindanao (FREEDOM), Inc. is implementing a project that aims to provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities and increase the income of tappers and wine processors in Barangay Agsam in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.

The growing consumer preference towards natural sweeteners is manifested by the increasing market share of different natural sweeteners such as coco sugar, Stevia, and nipa palm sugar. There is a large demand for natural sweeteners in the foreign market including United States and Europe.

Considering the strategic position of the Philippines, being the country with the third largest area of Nipa palm plantations in southeast Asia, a team led by Mr. Antonio S. Peralta of FREEDOM, Inc. set out to take greater strides in expanding the selection of locally made, world-class, nipa palm-based products. Peralta and his team drafted a research proposal that was eventually funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research which is entitled, “Adoption and Utilization of Nipa Palm Sugar Processing Technology in Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur.” Partnering with DA-BAR and FREEDOM would be the Sitio Ipil Wine Makers Association (SIWA) and the Municipality of Lanuza wherein the latter will have the full marketing contract to purchase the Nipa Palm sugar produced by SIWA members for resale to interested buyers.

The said project is funded under the National Organic Agriculture Program and coordinated by the bureau, through its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP). The project seeks to improve the Nipa Palm sugar product of the community, contribute to mangrove rehabilitation and protection, and strengthen local people’s organizations. Components of the project include organizing innovative sap processing technology training, product packaging and labeling, and market linking.

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Before FREEDOM’s research project, the farmers in Barangay Agsam, Lanuza had depended on Nipa wine making, and rice and corn farming as their sources of income. With the help of the BAR-funded project, their income opportunities significantly increased. SIWA, the chosen project beneficiary, in partnership with FREEDOM, Inc., is now managing the common service processing facility and is responsible for producing high quality Nipa Palm sugar. The facility that produces the sugar on a weekly basis, houses a mechanical dryer that can process 40 kilograms of sugar per batch.

Members of SIWA were trained in, not only on the proper methods of tapping nipa sap and processing nipa palm sugar, but also the basics of organizational and financial management. SIWA was also equipped with the machinery and equipment needed to properly harvest and process the tree sap for sugar production. According to Fritz Escudero of FREEDOM, prior to the project, farmers were not particular with the sanitation required in making sugar out of nipa sap, but thanks to the training and field trips to accredited processing facilities, the SIWA members were made aware of these concerns which ultimately expedited their efforts to develop the quality of the Nipa Palm Sugar taste.

To date, the Nipa Palm products were able to penetrate the Eco Stores, a national chain of stores operating in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro. “Local coffee shops have also shown interest in using Nipa Palm sugar for different varieties of specialty coffee that they sell,” Mr. Peralta added.

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Presently, nipa palm sugar is packed in 150-gram stand up pouches. These are sold at PhP 150.00 per pouch. The product was favorably received during the Davao Agri Trade Expo (DATE) held at SMX Global in Lanang, Davao City, one of the major agri trade fairs in the country drawing both local and foreign buyers. Also, the Nipa Palm sugar was awarded as the “Best New Product” in the 11th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition held by BAR in August 2015 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. “The award served as fuel to SIWA members to cooperate more for the project,” Mr. Peralta shared.

SIWA members highly appreciate the series of training activities as well as capacity building seminars facilitated by FREEDOM, Inc. to further improve their skills on Nipa Palm sugar processing and farm production management. Terrencio Orillaneda, a member of SIWA, commented that the training has helped them develop their production of Nipa Palm sugar into a viable micro enterprise. Other members have also come to recognize the value of the training provided to them as it has helped them manage their association in a professional manner.

“We have established a ‘Farmer Climate Field School’ to support the good agricultural practices that we are introducing in the project. Production standards and proper training for farmers which were introduced under the project will improve the quality of Nipa Palm sugar,” Mr. Peralta said.

According to John Largo, Officer-in-charge of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, not only has the project helped in increasing the farmer’s source of income but it has also elevated their awareness of climate change. Ever since becoming beneficiaries of FREEDOM’s project, members of SIWA have become more involved in the LGU’s activities aimed at protecting the environment such as tree planting projects and awareness campaigns during town festivals. This level of enthusiasm is significant for Largo’s municipality since the town is in close proximity to large-scale mining sites.

Today, FREEDOM and SIWA are in the next phase of the project which involves expanding nipa plantation areas and Nipa Palm sugar and wine processing facilities across Surigao del Sur while simultaneously securing the needed accreditations for both the Azucar de Lanuza enterprise and its processing facilities. Both Lanuza and FREEDOM look forward to day that Nipa Palm Sugar would soon penetrate, not only the larger local market, but also be exported internationally. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino and Ephraim John J. Gestupa)

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For more information, please contact:
Mr. Antonio Peralta
Executive Director, FREEDOM, Inc. 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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3rd CPAR Congress to highlight progressive agrifishery through R&D

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The 3rd Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) Congress is set once again to bring together CPAR farmers and fishers, project leaders, researchers, and partners as they highlight and share noteworthy accomplishments, success stories and relevant technologies out of CPAR on November 15-16, 2016 in Clark, Pampanga.

This year’s congress is expecting about 250 participants coming from the Department of Agriculture (DA) national and regional offices, members of the Local Government Units (LGUs), and CPAR farmer beneficiaries and adopters from different parts of the country.

CPAR, one of the flagship programs of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), has been benefiting a total of 11,517 farmers nationwide for the past 17 years. It was in 2014 when BAR institutionalized the yearly conduct of the CPAR Congress, which is now perceived to effectively bring out the best among stakeholders, especially the local farmers and fishers through showcasing of matured technologies while forging stronger linkages leading to a better implementation of CPAR.

With this year’s theme, “Masaganang Buhay para sa Magsasaka’t Mangingisdang Pilipino sa Pamamagitan ng Progresibong Agrikulturang Pananaliksik at Pag-unlad,” the congress carries a timely vision of a food secure, progressive agrifishery in lieu of the DA’s pronouncements under its new administration, focusing on food sufficiency and maximum productivity of Filipino farmers and fishers.

Relevant to this pursuit, the congress will feature topics that will showcase outstanding project results comprising of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) implementation, community organization, production management, marketing and product development, rollover scheme/financial management, LGU support, enterprise development, effective collaborations, and participatory monitoring and evaluation.

There will also be presentations of special topics relevant to improving the CPAR implementation such as market linkaging, farmers’ business school, and agritourism by invited experts from DA- Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and Ms. Rose Mary Aquino of DA-CVRC, respectively.

Also, there will be an exhibit of various products developed through the CPAR projects, as well as posters depicting processes, implementation, and significant results and project impact of CPAR.

For BAR, service to the agrifishery frontliners—the farmers and fishers— is the focus of the CPAR program. ### (Daryl Lou A. Battad)

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For more information on the congress, please send email to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (02) 920-0227.

BAR, CLSU participate in DA-led Philippine Harvest Trade Fair

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The Department of Agriculture, in partnership with Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) and Central Square, organized the third leg of the Philippine Harvest Trade Fair from 14 to 16 October 2016 in Central Square, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Dubbed as Organic, Artisinal, Natural and Indigenous Agri Food Fair, the event aimed to showcase the country's local and natural products, and to give importance to the farmers and their local produce. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol expressed his support to agricultural entrepreneurs and the promotion of Philippine products, which according to him, are truly world-class.

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"Participants [of the trade fair] are farmers who grow the produce themselves and local entrepreneurs who buy from these small farmers.A lot of farmers and local entrepreneurs like participating because the more they know that there are good and quality local ingredients, the more they are encouraged to plant. This encourages our consumers to support and buy local produce, thus helping our farmers," Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Now on its third leg, she added that 'We were supposed to have it only once, but we found out that many of those who came to visit were surprised of the good quality of our local produce.'

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is one of the 43 invited exhibitors and showcased its funded-project on tilapia, specifically tilapia ice cream and other product lines developed by one of its partners, Central Luzon State University. Tilapia ice cream won the Innovation Gold Award during the Salon International de L’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) ASEAN Manila 2016 held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Manila.

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BAR recognizes the importance of participating in trade shows and exhibitions that serve as a venue to promote generated technologies and developed products by its partner R&D institutions, as well as to facilitate market linkages.

Other showcased products during the three-day fair include heirloom and organic rice; herbs, spices and sauces; organic vegetables; bee and other wellness products; mushroom; coffee; juices, tea and wines from indigenous fruits; dairy products among others. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino, DA-BAR, Applied Communication Division)

2016 Agrilink opens, BAR booth visited by gov’t and DA officials

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Dubbed as the country’s largest annual international agribusiness event, the “2016 Agrilink/Foodlink/Aqualink” opened on 6 October 2016 and will run until 8 October 2016 at the World Trade Center, Metro Manila.

Gracing the first day of the event were Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Vice Chairperson Cynthia A. Villar, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, DA Undersecretary for Agribusiness and High Value Crops Evelyn G. Laviña, DA Assistant Secretary for the Visayas Atty. Hansel O. Didulo, and Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar, along with other government officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

As one of the major sponsors and exhibitors of the three-day event, BAR featured in its booth a Philippine map showcasing champion commodities from each region wherein BAR has provided R&D support. The map was inspired by the “Color Coded Agriculture Guide Map” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and DA Secretary Piñol that will serve as a guide for farmers on the appropriate crop to be planted in a specific location.

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Also showcased was the Technology Commercialization on Wheels (TCOW), an initiative of BAR under its National Technology Commercialization Program, together with the University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Development Communication that seeks to improve local agricultural conditions and enhance the social marketing appeal of agricultural commodities by bringing Package of Technologies (POTs) to communities through a mobile exhibit truck.

DA Secretary Piñol appreciated the TCOW initiative and said that further intensification of extension-related activities in the agriculture department will be pushed early next year. Aside from the agriculture secretary, other officials who visited the BAR booth included Senator Villar, Undersecretary Laviña, Assistant Secretary Didulo, and Director Eleazar.

During the first day, BAR likewise conducted three seminars with topics on herbs and spices, indigenous crops, and mushroom production. ### (DA-BAR)

“Tilapia ice cream” breaks new ground for business ventures

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After successfully bagging the Gold Medal as an Innovation-World Winner Awardee during the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) ASEAN Manila 2016, and going viral over the internet, new business opportunities now await the trend-setting tilapia ice cream.

Developed by Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and packaged as Daerrys tilapia ice cream, this will soon be available in Ka Tunying’s Café in Quezon City owned by known news anchor, Anthony Taberna. Professor Dana G. Vera Cruz, project leader and chair of the CLSU-Department of Hospitality Management, excitedly shared that in November of this year, the tilapia ice cream will also be sold along with various ice cream product lines found in a supermarket in FisherMall, Quezon City.

“We are overwhelmed with the positive feedbacks regarding our tilapia products. We are happy sharing such innovative technologies and putting a twist to the conventional way of preparing tilapia,” Prof. Vera Cruz shared. She is also delighted that the tilapia ice cream will be providing additional income to fisherfolk in the Central Luzon region with the additional volume of raw materials that will be needed to meet the expected demand for tilapia ice cream.

Prof. Vera Cruz attributes a major part of tilapia ice cream’s success to the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) which provided funding support through the project, “Technology Enhancement and Commercialization of Tilapia Ice Cream”. According to her, “It is really DA-BAR who supported the commercialization of tilapia products under our R&D activities that started way back in 2002 continuing until now with the development of more product lines,” she added.

Funded under DA-BAR’s National Technology Commercialization Program, CLSU was able to develop various tilapia products including tilapia ice cream with tilapia praline, tilapia ice cream sans rival, and tilapia ice cream with tilapia cookies. There are also thin plain tilapia cookies, tilapia cookies with tomato jam, and tilapia hermits dipped in lemongrass-pandan chocolate.

Currently, CLSU is producing 5,000 units (cups and other variants) of tilapia ice cream per month. “Hopefully, in the months ahead, its commercialization will emerge so more and more Filipinos will be able to taste it,” the project leader said. With success in hand, Prof. Vera Cruz wishes to encourage researchers and other individuals who want to venture into the business of agricultural products. “Being innovative also means you have to take the risk and, at the same time, believe in your product. Surround yourself with creative people. Daerrys tilapia ice cream would not be successful without the help of the whole R&D team, from the proponents led by CLSU President, Dr. Tereso A. Abella, down to the laborers and, of course, to funding agencies like DA-BAR who helped us along the way. May this also be the start where we Filipino researchers would be known as innovative and creative, and our Philippine products become recognized and competitive in the local and international markets,” she said.

SIAL ASEAN Manila 2016 was held on 31 May–2 June 2016 at the World Trade Center in the City of Manila in which 350 exhibitors from 25 countries around the world participated. Part of Prof. Vera Cruz’ privilege as a winner is their team’s upcoming participation in SIAL Paris 2016 Food Exhibit in October 2016 on top of using the SIAL logo in their product labels. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)