How Agripreneurs making money from processed Batuan
Batuan (Garcinia binucao), is an indigenous fruit crop usually found in tropical climate countries like the Philippines. It is usually eaten ripe and widely-used as souring agent to Filipino dishes including sinigang. Batuan is particularly famous in the province of Iloilo and a main ingredient to Ilonggo’s cansi, pinalmahan, KBL (kadyos, baboy, langka), and among others. Batuan is synonymous to the sampalok of the Tagalog.
Aside from being a souring agent, batuan is also known for its health benefits. Containing antioxidants that fight free radicals from the body, it can reduce a cholesterol level which is good for those with hypertension. It is also rich in vitamin C which can help boost the immune system and give human optimum health. This shows that there is a lot more to this indigenous crop.
The Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC) of the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 6, led by Dr. Peter S. Sobrevega together with her colleagues, Elizabeth F. Amit are carrying out studies to further explore the potentials of batuan.
With the funding support from Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), DA-RFO 6 embarked on studies that will look into the possible interventions to tap the benefits of batuan particularly as processed products.
In 2016, with funding support from BAR, DA-RFO 6 implemented the project, “Production and Technology Promotion of Batuan (Garcinia binucao (Blanco) Choicy)”. The project aimed to enhance the income of farmers through utilization of batuan and develop new products for commercialization.
As a result, three agripreneurs from the province of Iloilo, assisted under the project, are now into food processing and value-adding of batuan. Through technical assistance from the capability trainings conducted by DA-RFO 6, their products are now commercially-available in the mainstream market.
From wage earners to agripreneurs
Suzette Demo, 43, from Jaro, Iloilo, is one of the assisted agripreneurs who is now into food processing of batuan. Her batuan tart, jam and jelly are now available in eight branches of Carlos Bakeshop [Bakery-Café], a popular all-time favorite pasalubong and pastry shop in Iloilo. A total of 2,250 pieces per week of batuan tart are produced and sold for Php. 55.00 /piece in the bakeshop.
Demo narrated the business venture started, when she met Rosalie Tre?as, owner of Carlos Bakeshop, in one of the trade fairs organized by DA-RFO 6 in February 2019 during the Dinagyang Festival. At that time, Tre?as was looking for native and local products that still not offered in the market.
“So yun ang naging opportunity, nag-usap kami at sinabi ni Ma’am Rosalie gagawa siya ng tart or any pastries para sa kanyang bakeshop from the batuan jam na isu-supply ko sa kanya,” Demo recalled. “So, na-excite ako parang na-trigger ang interest ko na i-go na namin,” she added. In a matter of week, hundreds of bottles of jam and jelly were sold in the bakeshop.
Her bottled products such as batuan puree and batuan jelly are also being sold in famous supermarkets of Iloilo such as SM Iloilo City, Robinson, and Festive Walk Kiosk. Her batuan jam was also included as one of the pastry spreads that are served in the buffet breakfast at Marriott Hotel and GT Hotel in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. And lastly, batuan piyaya, is soon to be available at Brendans House of Lengua De Gato in Uton, Iloilo.“Ang batuan ay nag-open ng malaking opportunity sa amin, blessing talaga ang batuan,” Demo added.
Another agripreneur who is also into processed batuan is Bonifacio Stefan, 51, from Miagao, Iloilo. He is processing batuan into powder as ingredients for sinigang mix. Stefan was has been a known processor of turmeric powder and ginger tea and a fixed business earner in Miagao.
“Nagkaroon ako ng interest nun sa batuan dahil alam kong madaming batuan dito sa kabundukan namin. Nakita ko hindi pinapansin ng mga tao dahil akala nila wala itong pakinabang,” Stefan explained. “Kaya nung first time ko makita ng products na gawa sa batuan na display sa isang trade fare nagka-interest ako matuto.”
Through DA-RFO 6, Stefan attended a special training on the proper handling and food safety of batuan before it subjects for processing. Stefan was able to learn about food procedure on sorting, pulping, proper dehydrating, and milling. And because of his creativity and practical thinking to have an economically yet cost-effective equipment for his processing, he even built and fabricated his own dryer specifically for batuan powder.
Meanwhile, an employed dresser, Amalia Nobleza, 53, who’s also lived in Miagao, Iloilo, benefited from the two days training in making batuan jam and jelly. When she got home after attending the activity, she started to process a kilo of batuan and produced eight bottles wherein she earned Php 1,200 pesos as initial start. Eventually, it increases her production and was able to produced 159 bottles per week. “May umoorder na kasi sa mga bayan, may bumibili rin sa akin galing pang Capiz, Bacolod, kaya dapat tuloy-tuloy ang produksyon dahil mabilis talaga ang benta, maganda ang kita,” Nobleza happily shared.
Due to increasing demand for her products, Nobleza led to create an association namely the Durog Rural Improvement Club (DRIC) to help her neighboring folks to generate income.The DRIC was able to develop strategies wherein food operation and management has been stabilized by the members to continue and enhance the production and distribution of their products.
The DA-RFO 6 stated that one of interventions of the project to utilize and promote batuan was through the conduct of training, trade fairs, and agro-exhibits. Through the project, the region organized and participated in trade fair at Festive Walk during Dinagyang Festival and in Iloilo Agriculture and Livestock Expo at Iloilo Convention Center in February 2018 and 2019.
Demo, Stefan, and Nobleza were participants in the hands-on training conducted by DA-RFO 6. The training was able to equip potential agripreneurs with proper processing techniques, mindset and values, practical knowledge and strategies, and consultation services to foster successful and sustainable agri-enterprises.
Dr. Sobrevega, the project leader said that,“we introduced to them new products from batuan and we called them for training. For us, this is another outlet to encourage them to go into agripreneurial activities, which could potentially increase their incomes. It also a way to promote batuan as a viable economic activity.”
R&D efforts on batuan
The importance of batuan as indigenous tropical fruit crops that has a commercial value is recognized by the Department of Agriculture (DA). In fact, DA has included batuan as one of the species subjected to DNA barcoding/fingerprinting for resource identification, conservation and protection project. This will enable the Philippines to claim ownership of the fruit so that other interested parties will have to acknowledge the Philippines as the source of the species.
Supporting the endeavor, BAR, as the research arm of the DA, has funded numerous projects in partnership with other R&D partner-institutions to focus on the researchable areas of batuan including benchmarking studies, propagation, nursery establishment, product development, market research, and primary processing. ### Leoveliza C. Fontanil
For more information:
Dr. Peter S. Sobrevega
RTD for Research and Support Services/Project Leader
DA-Regional Field Office 6
Phone: (033) 329-0956