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New tech to aid Soybean, Cacao farmers in the Philippines

Image credit: www.dost.gov.ph

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will aid the soybean and cacao sectors in the provinces of Ifugao and Bukidnon using new technology, officials said in a statement.

With the rise in demand for farmgate Soybean and Cacao, DOST-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has chosen three community-based projects in Ifugao with the following beneficiaries – Saint John Organic Farm Families Organization and the local government unit (LGU) of Barangay Nayon in Lamut town for the establishment of a cacao processing facility; Nalbu Women’s Organization (NOW) and the LGU of Barangay Nalbu in Mayoyao town for soybean processing; and Jireh Organization and LGU of Barangay Poblacion in the town of Banaue also for soybean processing.

With the on-going efforts of the government’s move to revitalise the cocoa industry, the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) developed globally competitive technologies to enhance locally processed cacao products. These ITDI-developed technologies, namely cacao (tablea) processing and cacao bean roaster, speed up production time and improve the quality of cacao-based chocolate. These technologies are of big help to entrepreneurs producing cacao-based products.

The cacao processing technology that DOST developed can produce cocoa that is smooth and less acidic than the ones commercially available. Meanwhile, the ITDI-developed cacao bean roaster has better features than traditional roasters in terms of ease of use and affordability. This locally fabricated roaster costs around P600,000 pesos while imported ones cost up to P1 million.

Now, the DOST will provide up to date technology training, as well as assistance on packaging and product labelling using new technology as well as digital techniques. The agency has allocated more than PHP732,000 in grants for the three projects. The beneficiaries of the new tech and equipment shall ensure the implementation and completion of the project and attainment of the project’s objectives and expected output.

As for the equipment, the DOST recently turned over a roaster, dryer, grinding machine, stainless steel table, impulse heat sealer, and digital weighing scale to the beneficiaries. The agencies recently signed (an) MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the farmers. They are also set to provide the site and building or processing area to accommodate all the equipment to be acquired, said the DOST Director.

DOST said the projects will provide an additional livelihood to the beneficiaries, and further add value to their products. DOST added that those organisations tried to process soybean before, and they want to upgrade their skills and equipment, both in production and processing, they said that these organisations have approached the DOST to express interest to apply the technology learned from a soybean processing training they attended in March 2020.

Meanwhile, DOST Region X (DOST-10) Director confirmed that they are allocating PHP345,500 for the equipment and training of Malaybalay City Cacao Growers Association (MCCGA). According to their partners in DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DA (Department of Agriculture), cacao is an emerging industry in Bukidnon. The agency will be providing free training, likely to begin in March and will accommodate about 30 individuals.

With the on-going pandemic, the technological assistance provided for local farmers is a welcome sight. Not only is this part of the agency’s Community Empowerment through Science and Technology program, but it is also expected to boost the beneficiaries’ skills on tablea and chocolate making, good manufacturing practices, and food safety. This will further help the country overcome the economical down surge brought by COVID-19.

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