FROM a measly P7,000 starting capital in 2003, Rebecca Tubongbanua, a 39-year-old entrepreneur of San Isidro, Buenavista, Guimaras, was able to enhance and develop her agriculture-based endeavor into a multi-million business.

She was also selected as a Magsasakang Siyentista (Farmer Scientist) in 2007 and became the national secretary general of the Farmer Scientists Association. She was featured in a book written by former Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap as among the 200 agri-entrepreneurs in the country.

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A national nominee for Gawad Saka Award and president of the Guimaras Producers and Processors Association, Tubongbanua toiled for several years in experimenting and finally able to perfect her processed products made of indigenous fruits of Guimaras, especially mango, calamansi, casuy nuts and pineapple.

She put up her firm, McNester, which soon became the byword of processed commodities fit not only for the local table but for national and international markets. Guimaras mangoes are known as the sweetest mango in the world and command a better price in the markets.

Her processed commodities include mango jam, mango calamansi concentrate, dried mango, mango chutney, calamansi juice, mango calamansi juice, flavored polvoron, mango sauce, mango ketchup-regular, pineapple ketchup-hot and spicy, Indian mango pickles and pineapple marmalade.

Tubongbanua focused on high value commercial crop processing technology and her dried mangos are known for low sugar content and sulfite-free, as she uses science and technology based farm experience.

Her S&T-based farm village level processing in mango in San Isidro, Buenavista is starting to become a tourist attraction in the municipality as many visitors come to see and want to know her secret in processing.

Trainings for her and her 10 employees are provided by the Philippine Center for Agriculture Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, National Mango Research and Development Center, and Farmer Information and Technology Service, WESVARRDEC and the provincial agriculture office of Guimaras. (LCP)