ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 12 March) – A Zamboanga del Norte-based cooperative engaged in cassava production has received more than P400,000 in financial grant from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the agency’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP).
SETUP is a nationwide strategy to encourage and assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to adopt technological innovations to improve their operations and thus boost their productivity and competitiveness.
DOST Regional Director Brenda Nazareth-Manzano said Thursday the recipient of the P413,000 financial grant is the People’s Officials, Employees and Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (POEMCO) of Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte.
Manzano said the cooperative has about 160 hectares area planted with cassava and sells their raw products to San Miguel Foods, Inc. (SMFI), which then process the cassava into various products, especially animal feeds.
Manzano said the financial grant to POEMCO will be used to purchase cassava processing equipment, such as cassava flour mill, hammer mill, feed mixer and electric bag closer.
With the grant, Manzano said the cooperative is expected to achieve the following: production of standard quality cassava flour, food safety compliant processing facility, improvement of production operations through equipment upgrading, and productivity improvement of workers through trainings on good manufacturing practices and equipment operation and maintenance.
She said the cooperative is also expected to be able to produce at least 60 bags of cassava flour monthly, supply the demand of the six target market outlets, penetrate at least 10 existing bakeries in Polanco, and generate additional employment opportunities in the community.
She said that cassava flour is now widely used in bakeshops in Zamboanga del Norte instead of wheat flour.
Cassava is a tuberous edible plant from which cassava chips and flour, breads, a laundry starch, delicacies and even an alcoholic beverage are derived.