WOMEN from the upland communities of Inopacan town in Leyte province are now into banana and takudo (gabi) chips production and enterprise development, thanks to the efforts of the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The University of the Philippines Los Baños-based SEARCA, a treaty organization, has been helping women in Inopacan town to start a fruit and rootcrop chips processing enterprise through its Inclusive and Sustainable AgriCultural and Rural Development (ISARD) action research project.
The SEARCA-funded ISARD project facilitated chips production trainings, the construction of a chips processing plant, and microlending.
The project was led by Jose Bacusmo, Visayas State University (VSU) former president, and coordinated by Jose Medina of SEARCA and jointly implemented by VSU, the Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Program and the Inopacan local government.
Bacusmo said the project provides assistance through participatory approaches in developing social enterprises focused on banana and three other commodities by linking farmer organizations with various institutions and entrepreneurs to do business.
In collaboration with the VSU Food Processing Center, SEARCA said the Hinabay Women Workers' Association was trained in processing banana chips, as well as takudo chips.
"The women's group added takudo, a rootcrop widely grown in the area, as another frying chip material because it is cheaper than banana," Bacusmo said.
SEARCA said the establishment of a chips processing plant in Inopacan was facilitated by the project with funding from the local government of Inopacan, enabling the women's group to train on-site with hands-on exercises that easily helped them start chips production right right away.
The Department of Science and Technology was tapped to provide a banana chip cutter and fryer to better equip the processing plant.
Meanwhile, the project is also working on improving the production of jackfruit and tilapia culture to contribute to household food security and environmental sustainability through an integrated coconut farming system.
SEARCA has embarked on upscaling effective models of ISARD to strengthen the linkages among farmers, industry players and government institutions in achieving ISARD outcomes of food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation.