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The Nature Lovers Organization, an agroforestry People’s Organization (PO) in barangay Anao, Hingyon, Ifugao received the complete delivery of their required grafted rambutan seedlings on July 24, 2018 for their agroforestry project under the Scaling Up of the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project (CHARMP2 Scale Up). The activity was also in time with the joint 1st International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Supervision Implementation Support (SIS) Mission this year for the CHARMP2 Scale Up.

Based from report, a total of 2,625 seedlings (includes 5% for mortality) were delivered in the community to benefit a total of 39 beneficiaries. These will be planted in the 14 total hectares of land which were committed by the agroforestry PO specifically for the agroforestry project.

During the consultation of the IFAD-NEDA Mission Team with the community, PO member Mr. Ben Balinon siad that they have chosen rambutan as their commodity for the agroforestry project because they saw in one of their visits specifically in Lagawe, Ifugao that there are many rambutan being marketed at a good price. He added that although the price is a little bit high, the rambutan is delicious and the children loves the fruit very much.

Brgy. Captain Anthony Dominong also added that rambutan is not a native fruit in their community but he is glad that it will be introduced through the CHARMP2 Scale Up’s agroforestry project. He hopes that the commodity will succeed because, accordingly, there were a few rambutans that were introduced in the community before that grew well in the place. Among the major commodities planted in the community are betel nut, palay (rice), and citrus.

Why not coffee?

Coffee is identified as among the prime commodities with great potential in the region. However, it is not the case in barangay Anao. Mr. Balinon said that coffee is actually growing abundantly in their barangay in the 1980s but then the market is not good so they cut the trees down. “Walang bumibili (No one is buying [coffee],” he said.

IFAD Mission Leader Mr. Jerry Pacturan encouraged the group to explore the possibilities of reviving coffee in the community because, accordingly, coffee has a great potential and that the demand is high both locally and internationally.

Given that rambutan takes around 4-5 years before bearing fruits, Mr. Pacturan also encouraged the PO members to think over good strategies in marketing the rambutan as early as now. This is to avoid possible over supply in their target markets which may affect the selling price in the future.

Mr. Pacturan added that it may be also good for the group to have learning visits with advanced municipalities regarding rambutan production to learn and be familiarized further with growing rambutan.

“Learn from them because it will take some time before your rambutan seedlings will grow and bear fruits,” he said.

After climatization of the delivered seedlings, these will be distributed among the PO members for planting in their individual plots. In case of deaths in their planted seedlings,  it is in their policy to remove and replace it immediately.//JBAgrifino


OPPORTUNITIES FROM NEW DISCOVERIES

Galangan is a local and native variety of banana in Sabangan, Mt. Province. People usually just ignore this variety of banana. It is left eaten by birds, pigs and other animals. Residents say it’s edible but not pleasant with its tacky texture.

But the Losad Livelihood Interest Group, organized and supported by the CHARM2 Project, changed the fate of the Galangan banana. After some experiments with other banana varieties, the group discovered that Galangan is best and suitable to their new banana chip business.

STARTING THE BUSINESS

Organized in 2015, the Losad LIG proposed the processing of banana chips as their livelihood activity. They were then awarded with P90,000 livelihood assistance fund (LAF) that they used to purchase kitchen equipments and ingredients for their banana chip processing business.

In 2017, they were assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry by training on processing. The agency also provided them with their product label. Michelle B. Angel, president of the organization said they are yet planning to improve their product and hopefully expand their small business and group.

The group is under the Losad Community Organization Inc., which is their mother LIG during CHARMP2. Now, they are also planning to have their group registered so they could avail of more assistance especially from the government.

The group is composed of 15 members with only one male member. “Usually, the male member does the banana harvesting ‘agtebbag ti saba’ while the women do most of the kitchen jobs,” Michelle said.

Processing of their banana chip products is done twice a month or depending on the availability of Galangan. “The banana plant grows for a year,” Michelle said. They and some community members have also started to grow Galangan since it is already marketable for banana chips.

They buy raw Galangan at P1.00 per piece from members and from the community. They usually process around 350 pcs of Galangan in one setting. In each processing, they are able to produce around 170-180 packs of banana chips weighing 100 grams each pack. They sold it whole sale for only P20/pack and is usually retailed at P25/pack.

“We sell it to local stores. We also have orders from Baguio customers and overseas workers who buy it as their ‘pasalubong,’ said Michelle. “We started marketing our product in 2016,” she added.

Members who work during the processing are paid on daily basis. “Around six to seven members are enjoined during processing and are paid P200 a day,” they said. Michelle added that in every processing cycle they make sure that they deposit some income in their association, even though it is minimal since they have to deduct all their processing expenses including the labor cost.

In 2017, they have a net income of around P10,000, which they decided to keep as their revolving capital. Although the group is earning minimal from the business, they are still happy that they can contribute to their family income and are able to hone their business skills. // CBOrcales