By: John Maico M. Hernandez, PSTC Batangas

LIPA CITY -- In a bid to provide value addition to two of the major agricultural products of the city, women farmers and food producers were capacitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Batangas through the conduct of Technology Training on Coconut and Banana processing held at Organic Agriculture Research and Development Center, Sept. 19-20.

The undertaking was an initiative of the City Government of Lipa thru the Office of the City Agriculturist partnered with DOST Batangas. Value addition was pursued to give the participants a broad spectrum of other products that could be derived from their coconut and banana produce. Moreover, the capacity building aimed to let them enable additional income most significantly when surplus of these agricultural products is existent or when the market prices for these are relatively low.

Through the help of Mr. Romel Felismino and Ms. Diane Belan, technical experts from the Institute of Food Science and Technology of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, technologies on processing of coco jam, pakumbo, buko yema, buko juice, banana chips, and banana catsup were taught to women farmers and food producers. Food properties, composition, and health benefits of coconut and banana were also detailed out to participants. More than these, the strategies in food processing and shelf life prolongation techniques were also among the significant areas focused during the technology training. The women farmers and food producers also had the chance to consult to experts the common problems they encounter during food processing. Their concerns which fall on the areas of packaging and labelling, nutritional contents, and processing approaches among others were all addressed during the training.

Basic Food Hygiene for Food Handlers was also instilled to women farmers and food producers. Mr. Ellgine Libao, Food Safety Team Member of DOST CALABARZON, facilitated the discussion which served as a springboard towards participants’ food safety appreciation. Meanwhile, Ms. Maria Lourdes Silva, City Agriculturist, give participants the challenge to progress on this value addition which according to her shall help fuel participants’ growth in the business.