The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has been helping women in Inopacan, Leyte to start a fruit and rootcrop chips processing enterprise through its inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD) action research project that facilitated chips production trainings, the construction of a chips processing plant, and micro lending.

Focused on the upland communities of Inopacan, the SEARCA-funded ISARD project is jointly implemented by the Visayas State University (VSU), Visayas Consortium for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Program (ViCAARP), and the local government of Inopacan.

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.

The SEARCA project partnered with the VSU Food Processing Center to train the Hinabay Women Workers’ Association 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.

The establishment of a chips processing plant in Inopacan was facilitated by the project with funding from the local government of Inopacan. The women’s group was thus able to train on-site with hands-on exercises that easily enabled them to start chips production right away.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been tapped to provide a banana chip cutter and fryer to better equip the processing plant.

The SEARCA ISARD project in Inopacan is led by Dr. Jose Bacusmo, former president of VSU, and coordinated by Dr. Jose Medina of SEARCA.

Aside from banana and takudo chips enterprise development, the project is also working on improving the production of jackfruit, tilapia culture to contribute to household food security, and environmental sustainability through the integrated coconut farming system.

Philippine government-hosted 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.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s April 2019 issue.