By: John Maico M. Hernandez, DOST-PSTC Batangas

As a member of the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) CALABARZON thru Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) Batangas strengthened the capacity building efforts for Brgy. Toong Community Mushroom Growers through conduct of a seminar on food safety in mushroom production held at Brgy. Toong, Tuy, Batangas, Feb. 12.

The PRLEC chaired by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is one of the 12 clusters of the NTF-ELCAC to implement Executive Order No. 70 or the “Whole-of-Nation Approach” of solving the 50-year old insurgency problem in the country. The Provincial Task Force in Batangas composed of agencies that provide employment and livelihood to communities has agreed on areas of convergence to work on. Among these areas is Brgy. Toong in Tuy, Batangas. The Provincial Task Force worked on forming an association of Community Mushroom Growers aimed at serving as community partner in spinning off applications to develop a self- reliant, resilient and sustainable community and to further promote sustainable and inclusive peace. 

A day after the TESDA Batangas-led training on Sustainable Organic Farming and Food processing for Brgy. Toong Community Mushroom Growers, DOST CALABARZON PSTC Batangas marshalled to advance the producers’ knowledge on basic food hygiene. Sixteen members of the association partook the seminar. Basic principles of food safety standards in different production processes and in the processing facility provided the members with a deeper understanding of the importance of safe production practice. The seminar covered topics on basic food hygiene, personnel hygiene, equipment, production facility, cleaning and sanitation, and handwashing. Activities were also conducted to support discussions and steer engagement of participants.

Although the seminar was conducted short and encompassed only basic principles of food safety, President of the association, Miss Dolor Sacdalan, recognized the relevance of the activity in expanding their capacity as mushroom food producers. She also expressed their association’s gratitude to DOST for the effective transfer of knowledge given a limited time. “Maraming salamat po sa pagtuturo ninyo, maikli man ang oras pero marami kaming natutunan. Dagdag kaalaman po ito sa amin,” she said.

Aside from the food safety seminar, several success stories of DOST-assisted community-based associations were also shared to the participating members to give them a benchmark on managing a community enterprise through science, technology and innovations. Meanwhile, further DOST activities including the conduct of an in-depth good manufacturing practices training and benchmarking activity at DOST-assisted mushroom production enterprises were also discussed to the association as a component of the Provincial Task Force’s harmonized inter-agency strategies to support their community.