090220 cabadbaran

by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte - Farmers of this fertile valley in the Eastern Part of Mindanao have started processing their excess squash production into a high value product, a very tasty and nutritious Pancit Canton.

Last week, I visited the City of Cabadbaran, the capital of Agusan del Norte, and made the pleasant and relieving discovery in the office of Mayor Judy Chin Amante.

The Pancit Canton made from squash was among the local products displayed in the Mayor's office and knowing the perennial problem of Squash over production during the summer months, I asked her staff to prepare a Pancit Canton dish.

The Squash Pancit Canton tasted a lot better than the commercial version which is made out of cereal flour.

It is healthier too. Here is what Google said about the health benefits from Squash:

"The vegetable is high in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium. That's a serious nutritional power-packed veggie. Yellow squash is also rich in manganese. This mineral helps to boost bone strength and helps the body's ability to process fats and carbohydrates."

Mayor Amante said the Pancit Canton-making project is supported by the Department of Science and Technology under Sec. Fortunato dela Peña, a quiet but efficient government worker.

Although Cabadbaran farmers are only producing Squash Pancit Canton on weekends depending on orders from local consumers, the product is gaining popularity.

As usual, the problem which hampers the mass-production of this new and nutritious product is the absence of the Certificate of Product Registration issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Mayor Judy Amante, however, is optimistic that the project will contribute to a better life for Squash farmers, not only in Agusan del Norte, but the whole Mindanao as well.

During the summer months, the price of freshly harvested Squash could be as low as P1 per kilo, prompting farmers to just throw away their produce rather than lose money bringing it to the market and spend for tranport.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) team, which is validating projects and sites for the Mindanao Rise Program funded by the European Union, visited the processing facility of Squash Pancit Canton in Cabadbaran.

It is a small processing center which obviously would not be capable of producing volume to meet the expected demand for this new and exciting product.

The technology, developed by DOST, has opened a window of opportunity for Mindanao's Squash farmers who have perennially suffered from the problem of oversupply during the summer months.

The things needed to be done to launch this on a bigger scale is for FDA to move fast and for government to seriously look into this income-earning opportunity for farmers and provide support for the establishment of a bigger processing facility for volume commercial production.

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