N. Ecija farmers’ coop gets DOST post-harvest equipment

PALAYAN CITY – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has provided processing equipment to a farmers’ cooperative in Neva Ecija that could help reduce farmers’ post-harvest losses.

The equipment for the processing of squash-based products was given to the Nagkakaisang Gabay sa Bayan ng Gabaldon.

DOST Provincial Science and Technology Office (PSTO) -Neva Ecija, chief, Leidi Mel B. Sicat, said the project aims to help members of the cooperative from the villages of Bagong Sikat, Bantug, Carugang, Bugnan, and Cupaya, all in Gabaldon town, to process their surplus harvest into squash-based products, such as squash noodles, flour, and chips.

“Squash is one of the crops grown in the municipality. Due, however,  to the large volume of their production, farmers are usually forced to sell their produce at low prices or even at a loss while the rest are left to rot and spoil,” Sicat said in a statement.

She said the project aims not only to increase the economic capabilities of the farmer-beneficiaries by adding value to their crops but also to enhance the nutritional status of the community through the production of readily-available and nutritious vegetable processed products.

“Not only will the farmers earn extra income. They will also get to contribute to the improvement of the nutritional status of the people in the community, especially children, as their products can be used in feeding programs initiated by the municipality,” she said.

The equipment for squash processing includes stainless steel working tables, a digital platform scale, a dough mixer, a digital weighing scale, a noodle maker, a deep fryer, a cooling rack, blenders, and a foot stamp sealer.

To ensure the sustainability of the project, Sicat said the cooperative members would undergo training on the operation of the equipment the DOST-PSTO-Nueva Ecija would conduct, aside from seminars on basic food hygiene and current good manufacturing practices to ensure that their products are safe.

Mara P. Arcilla, chairperson of the Nagkakaisang Gabay sa Bayan ng Gabaldon, thanked the DOST and Sen. Joel Villanueva for their assistance. The project is funded under the expanded implementation of the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology program of DOST 3 (Central Luzon), which Villanueva fully supports.

We are very grateful to DOST-3 and to Senator Joel Villanueva for the equipment provided us in for the processing of our squash harvests. Now that we were given the processing equipment, we could sell our products made from squash, such as squash noodles, at a higher price,” Arcilla said.