SOME 50 farmers from the villages of Lubigan and Dita, east of Zamboanga City, have learned value-added processing for other cassava products to diversify their livelihood.
City Agriculturist Carmencita Sanchez said they have undergone a four-day training last week organized by the United States Agency for International Development’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (Usaid-Surge) project and her office.
Sanchez said the training focused on alternative processing technologies in developing new cassava-based products such as food-grade cassava chips and cassava-based delicacy salvaro which are marketable in schools, offices and groceries.
Sanchez said the cassava growers also learned basic techniques in cassava processing such as grating, molding, drying, frying, and packaging.
She said that most of the participants were women who are also family members of cassava farmers in communities, and were organized into Rural Improvement Clubs.
She said that through the training, the women farmers were provided with new livelihood opportunities.
After the training, the Usaid-Surge and City Agriculturist Office will assist the growers in accessing equipment and packaging from other government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology.
Since 2017, Lubigan and Dita growers have been supplying cassava chips as raw materials for poultry feeds to agribusiness firm San Miguel Foods, Inc., as a result of the USAID-SURGE’s technical assistance in forging a supply linkage.
However, prices of feed-grade cassava chips have been erratic due to competition from other feed substitutes as well as unstable demand from users.
This prompted the local cassava growers to start exploring alternative markets for feed-grade cassava chips or other higher value cassava-based products. (Bong Garcia/SunStar Philippines)