SILANG, Cavite, August 4, 2003 (STAR)  – Soon, many parts of the country will be awash with canton noodles fortified with squash. And saluyot, too.

Over the past year, several micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) in strategic places in the country have gone into squash and saluyot canton noodles making, thanks to technological intervention by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

About a dozen firms have gone into the commercial production of squash – and saluyot-fortified canton noodles, FNRI director Dr. Corazon Barba told The STAR. And more are expected to engage in the business since interest in the nutrient-rich food product is increasing.

Among the latest to go into the business was the DOST/FNRI-assisted FARMTEC Foods Inc. in this town. FARMTEC was among the MSMEs in the Southern Tagalog region visited recently by members of the media (including this writer) and DOST officials headed by Secretary Estrella F. Alabastro and Undersecretary Florentino O. Tesoro under the year-long (2003), nationwide "DOST Technology Transfer Roadshow".

The firm now produces daily 500 to 1,000 pieces of properly packaged squash canton noodles that find their way to big stores in Cavite and supermarkets in Metro Manila. It is presently eyeing Filipino communities abroad, particularly in the US, as target markets.

Aside from FNRI, those that helped FARMTEC improve and expand its operations were the DOST-Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), DOST-Region 4, and the Cavite Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC).

DOST trained the FARMTEC staff on the technology of producing canton noodles fortified with squash.

‘Buko’ pie that lasts for 1 yr

A "buko" pie that lasts for a year?

Yes, if it is one that is "blast-frozen and microwavebable".

A technology on the production of young coconut-based pie that can last for 12 months has been developed through the joint efforts of DOST, DOST-Region 4, DOST-TAPI, DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), DOST-Cavite PSTC, and U.P. Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB-CFNR).

Beneficiary of the technology was the Lety’s Special Buko Pie in Los Baños, Laguna.

In the venture, DOST provided the blast freezer, cold storage, and modern baking equipment (dough kneader, dough roller, commercial oven) and developed the packaging system and label design.

In the DOST-developed blast freezing technology, very cold air (-30 to -40 degrees Celsius) is blown into the pie for about one and a half to two hours. When the frozen pie is placed in a microwave oven, it will taste and appear like a freshly baked pie.

With the application of the technology and the use of the new packaging design, nationwide distribution of the pies can now be realized. Moreover, the pies can be marketed to Filipino communities abroad.

Also target markets are Asians who have cultivated a liking for "buko" pie during their sojourn in Los Baños, acknowledged worldwide as "buko pie country".

Criollo being revitalized

KABACAN, North Cotabato – Ever heard of Criollo?

It is one of the three popular populations of cacao with superior quality. The others are Forastero and Trinitario.

To Filipinos, cacao is not just a crop of important commercial value; it is also a crop of great cultural significance. Since 1670 when it was introduced to the Philippines by a Spanish mariner, Filipinos have learned to culture cacao and prepare the beans into a rich, frothy, and hot chocolate drink.

It was in the 1050s that cacao production became a commercial concern in the country. However, local cacao production suddenly changed when commercial farms were distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries. Yield precipitously dropped to 540 kilograms per hectare from 3,000 kg/ha.

To revitalize the industry, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) recommended the improvement of cacao, particularly Criollo (because of its aroma and flavor) for global competitiveness.

Along this line, a BAR-funded project titled "Crop Improvement of Cacao with Emphasis on Criollo is now being undertaken by the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato. Involved in the research project are Dr. Ruben Cabangbang, Dr. Romulo Cena, and Rhodina Cena.

To date, the project has gathered 77 accessions of Criollo and Criollo-related clones from 16 areas in Visayas and Mindanao. The collected accessions were propagated into cacao seedlings.

A cacao nursery and cacao scion grove have also been established as source for the multiplication and propagation of experimental materials for use in the setting up of a cacao genebank and pollination or hybridization block.

A data file containing the accession number, code, and site and date of collection has likewise been created.

In the immediate future, if funds are available, other areas in Luzon, particularly in Laguna, Batangas, Palawan, and Quirino, will be visited for Criollo cacao clones. – Rudy A. Fernandez

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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