Calamansi farmers venture into juice processing
By Sonny Malate
LAGONOY, Camarines Sur --- Lagonoy Calamansi Farmers Agricultural Cooperative (LACAFA Agri-Coop) is set to venture on processing calamansi by-products for commercial purposes soon.
The processed products include concentrated calamansi juice, ready to drink preparation in plastic container and puree.
Nelson Roy A. Ramos, the coop’s general manager, said that grants from Department of Agriculture Office 5 (DA RO5) amounting to P6.42M and the P1-M fund released by the Angat Buhay Foundation has paved the way for realization of the project.
The coop has set aside P4M from the fund offered by the agriculture agency for the construction of a building. The edifice, of which the construction is on-going, will serve as production work area and coop office.
The remaining P2.42M will be spent in the procurement of needed processing equipment and materials. It is the DA RO5 that will oversee the building construction and supervise the purchase of equipment and materials.
Meanwhile, the financial grant received from Angat Buhay, the foundation established by former Vice President Leni G. Robredo, will be used to cover the operational expenses of the cooperative.
The coop building, which is under construction, is located in Barangay Santa Maria. It sits on a 500 sq. m. lot donated by the municipal government of Lagonoy. The facility, once turned-over within this month of October by DA RO5, will immediately be operationalized as production work area.
Ramos said that thru strong collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Dept. of Trade and Industry (DTI) extensive technology transfer was undertaken wherein the coop members had the opportunity to learn the product and process knowledge about calamansi-processing and the venture’s business aspect.
As planned, initial items produced will be available for local consumers first. In due time when production warrants, the products will be marketed outside Bicol to accelerate sales.
Under the pro-active leadership of the coop’s chairman of the board, Architect Giovanni R. Per and Ramos himself, linkages with the government and private sectors will also be tapped.
For project sustainability and development this coop has made representations with DA- Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Services Division. Lately, it has also submitted to DA RO5 the required 5 Year Development Plan.
LACAFA Agri-Coop has a membership base of local 49 calamansi growers (and the number still counting) farming in fertile lands with a total area of 120 hectares that withstand the howling winds and pounding rains being in a region constantly visited by devastating typhoons.
Ramos expressed high hopes that their business venture will bring increased source of livelihood to members, enhance the service capability of the cooperative to the community and maximize the potential of calamansi as a major farming product of this locality and neighboring areas.