ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – The Roteo Farm located in Barangay Pian, Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte that produces tablea (raw native chocolate in tablet form) got a boost from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).
DOST regional information officer Jill Cindy Cruz-Cañete on Wednesday said the DOST has recently approved the release of P131,400 to upgrade the tablea production facility of Roteo Farm.
Cañete said the funds will be used by the management of the Roteo Farm to acquire new equipment to include a roaster, grinder and molder.
Through the upgrade project, Cañete said the Roteo Farm is expected to produce better quality tablea, increase production and income by 70 percent.
The DOST will also provide training on good manufacturing practices (GMP) and basic sanitation and hygiene for food handlers to the farm’s workers, she said.
The Roteo Farm, which processes cacao into tablea, is owned by Teosistas Balladares, who inherited the farm from her parents.
The farm was able to acquire facilities such as solar and mechanical dyer, fermentation boxes and shredder for cacao peels through the new technology introduced by Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines (CocoaPhil).
However, Cañete said the increase of demand for tablea pushed Balladares to seek DOST’s assistance through the SETUP to upgrade the farm’s existing processing facilities.
She said that the Regional Technical Evaluation Committee of DOST highly recommended the approval of SETUP assistance considering the management’s capability and technical know-how to man the project, the high demand for the finished product as well as the high profit and the impact that will be generated from the project operation, she said.
SETUP, a flagship program of DOST, is a nationwide strategy to encourage and assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in implementing technological innovations and improvements in their operations to boost their productivity and competitiveness. (MindaNews)