Tribal products in South Cotabato chosen for branding dev’t

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/03 February) — Two unique products produced by ethnic tribes in South Cotabato were chosen to undergo a marketing makeover in a bid to make them competitive in the international market, an official said.

Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, Department of Science and Technology director for Region 12, said that “Kafe Balos” and T’nalak have been identified for international branding development, a project partly funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“One of our major priorities this year is to enhance the competitiveness of unique Philippine products in the global market
through attractive packaging design using appropriate packing technology,” she said in a statement.

The project, aimed to empower micro, small and medium enterprises to become globally competitive, is in collaboration with the Industrial Technology Development Institute, a DOST attached agency.

The “Kafe Balos” and T’nalak cloth were chosen to be among the eight Philippine products for international packaging and country branding development by DOST-ITDI and JICA, Laidan said.

“Kafe Balos” is a coffee product from the Arabica variety that is fermented in the stomach of civet cats, or “alamid” in Filipino. The
venture involves the B’laan tribe in Mt. Matutum, South Cotabato’s landmark peak straddling the towns of Tupi and Polomolok, covering a coffee plantation area of nearly 500 hectares.

On the other hand, T’nalak, a hand-woven colorful cloth fashioned from abaca fiber, is produced by the T’boli tribe in scenic Lake Sebu town.

Laidan said the international design packaging development project is not just limited to unique products but also includes fresh and
semi-processed agricultural products.

In the region, she particularly identified them as papaya and marine-based products.

Laidan urged MSMEs to avail of the agency’s packaging or labeling assistance, which comes in the form of trainings and consultancy

She noted that they are also capable of analyzing microbial and nutrition contents, which are among the prerequisites to the overall
packaging design of a product.

These can be done through the various laboratories operated by the DOST-12 in the cities of Cotabato and General Santos, Laidan said.

“These laboratories play vital roles in the standardization of products in our region, which can help the products become
competitive,” she asserted.

Last year, the DOST-12 assisted the development of 102 label designs for food and non-food products across the region, Laidan reported.

She noted that they collaborated with the stakeholders from the academe, business, non-government organizations and other government  agencies in pursuing different development initiatives across the region. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)