FARMERS in Leyte and Samar provinces launched on January 26 various sweet potato-based food products in a bid to bring root crops by-products to supermarket.
The Visayas State University (VSU) in Baybay City and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) brought 12 farmers’ groups to Robinsons Place in Tacloban City for the business launch and exhibit.
Edilberto Hinay Jr., president of 37 sweet potato planters in Salvacion village in Dulag, Leyte, said he never thought of bringing their products to a mall.
In the past two years, the group raised P12,000 bank assets from selling root crops.
“Back in a day, we just shared camote to our neighbors and if we have more harvest, we sell this on roadsides and in vegetable market anywhere. Experts helped us put more value to our products,” Hinay said.
Camote, the local name for sweet potato, commonly cultivated in backyards, has been processed into fries, chips, juice, jam, ketchup, dessert wine, pasta, cookies, and fried noodles, among others.
Jose Bacusmo, VSU director for research, said they hope to link local producers to more consumers and even institutional buyers.
The event, according to the official, is the first market exposure of these farmers in the regional capital.
“We hope to train a number of them to specialize on single product to develop their export potential. We will work with other concerned government agencies and local government units,” Bacusmo said.
He said they prioritized camote farmers in this type of assistance since almost all of them are extremely poor.
Jocelyn Eusebio, PCAARRD crops research division director, said the multi-year project got P24 million funding from the central government to support research, production, processing, labeling, packaging, and marketing in Leyte, Samar, Tarlac, and Albay provinces.
“We have to complete and establish the value chain. We hope this will serve as a model in the country as we work to make camote as main commodity,” Eusebio said.
DOST Assistant Regional Director Ernesto Granada said they are committed to continue to extend help to camote-based food producers.
“Our office sees the need to provide chippers and slicers and teach them good manufacturing practices. This is to help them enter the export market,” Granada said.
The VSU and DOST have stepped up the promotion of sweet potato considering that the crop is affordable and high in nutritional value.
According to DOST, camote and other root crops are excellent sources of dietary fiber. The food can prevent the re-absorption of bile acids in the liver. Bile acids are converted to cholesterol in the liver and goes to the arteries. (PNA)