FROM CROPS TO SNACKS YOU’LL LOVE: DOST-MIMAROPA’s Food Innovation Center Transforms Wide Variety of Agricultural Crops into Snack Food
by: Athena Colline L. Verdey, DOST- MIMAROPA Regional Office
Philippines is considered to be an agricultural heaven with most of its population depending on rural farming and other livelihood undertakings. With the agricultural sector being one of the pillars of the economy, endeavors on maximizing the use of local commodities or crops and turning them into globally marketable products is of paramount concern. In MIMAROPA, its agricultural land area comprised almost 20 percent of the region’s total land area making it as one of the primary producers of agricultural and marine products such as coconut, banana, cashew, palay, corn, kalamansi, mango, and seaweed. These products, however, are being traded in neighboring regions as raw materials with little or no value addition.
To address this concern, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched Food Innovation Centers (FIC) across the country. Food Innovation Centers provide an avenue where MSMEs or local food producers can add value to existing crops through product development and create products that will generate strong demand in international markets. It aims to upgrade industries and
MSMEs, strengthen the competitiveness of the local food industry, and make regional economies grow. It is also a DOST initiative that aims to address one of the sustainable development goals— to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation in order to achieve a sustainable and inclusive society. MIMAROPA region is among the first six regions that have already established FIC.
The infrastructure, located at Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT) houses DOST-developed food technologies that are designed to develop new-to-the-world food products. Through the MIMAROPA FIC, the locally designed food technologies will be made available to MSMEs to ensure the product’s quality and freshness. Among such technologies are the vacuum-fryer, water retort, and the spray dryer. Adjunct equipment like freezer and packaging machines were also provided to the center.
These new technologies are capable of transforming wide variety of agricultural crops abundant in the region to new products of high commercial value. These locally-fabricated new technologies introduced to the MSMEs can create food products that are shelf-stable even in non-refrigerated conditions; improve the taste and texture of root crops, marine products, vegetables, and fruits which are palatable to buyers. It will surely create more demand for crops and develop more opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk.
MIMAROPA FIC is undergoing the product development stage and is conducting short-run production of different commodities such as the Vacuum-fried String Beans (sitaw), Vacuum-fried Okra, Vacuum-fried Squash (kalabasa), Vacuum-fried Sweet Potato (kamote), Vacuum-fried Banana (Ripe Saba), Vacuum-fried Jackfruit (langka), and Spray- dried Pineapple. To make the products more appealing, DOST-MIMAROPA also provides packaging and labelling assistance to the FIC.