Turning the dream agribusiness into reality:
CASSAVA CHIPS PROCESSING
“Walang imposible basta magtiwala at magsimula.”
This is the most important insight that 26-year-old Mark Andrew B. Cano gained as a Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) Regional Level awardee from the Bicol Region.
Thriving in agriculture
A farmer’s son, Cano developed his passion for agriculture from childhood. This inspired him to take up Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Later on, he worked at the Municipal Agriculture Office and Municipal Planning and Development Office at the Local Government Unit of Bagamanoc, Catanduanes.
Prior to his venture in cassava chips processing, Cano has been balancing his time as a government employee during weekdays and as a farmer every weekend. He observed that cassava is abundant in his community. In fact, Barangay Suchan, where his residence is located, is considered the largest producer of cassava in the Municipality of Bagamanoc with 13 hectares of agricultural area planted with the said crop. Hence, Cano thought of a value-adding activity that could generate income for agri-aquapreneurs in his hometown.
Adding crunch to a staple commodity
Immediately after receiving the Php 50,000 start-up capital from winning the YFCF Provincial Level, Cano started his cassava chips processing agribusiness. Cano gets his raw materials from his family’s cassava plantation and buys some from other farmers in his community. Applying the knowledge he gained from a training on Cassava Chips Processing Production conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry and Go Negosyo, he then started processing raw cassava into cassava crackers and cassava chips with the help of his family.
“Naniniwala ako na ang value-adding ang isa sa best practices na dapat na patuloy nating ginagawa sa agricultural products. Hindi lamang para sa pansariling benepisyo tulad ng kita mula sa product, kundi upang patuloy na tulungan ang mga magsasaka na mabawasan ang pagkasayang ng ani at gawing mas sustainable ang produksyon nila,” Cano said.
Pap’s Cassava Chips Processing produces assorted-flavored cassava crackers and cassava chips available in 50, 100, and 150 grams. Cano sells them for Php 25, Php 50, and Php 65, respectively, to local buyers, sari-sari stores, and pasalubong centers in Bagamanoc and Viga, Catanduanes. From October 25 to 29, 2021, Pap’s Cassava Chips Processing earned P20,550 after participating in the “Tiendas sa Isla” Catandungan Festival Edition Trade and Tourism Fair in Virac.
However, bad weather conditions limit the agribusiness’ production. “Dahil sa sama ng panahon hindi po ako nakakagawa ng chips. Isa po ‘yon sa mga kinahaharap pong problema sa agri-enterprise ko,” he said.
Exciting times ahead
Cano plans to establish his own small processing facility, buy additional processing equipment, and apply for Food and Drug Administration and License to Operate. He also intends to conduct research and explore other possible flavors like salted egg, shrimp, seaweeds, and herbs like basil, oregano, and lemongrass. He also wants to explore other by-products such as oven-cooked cassava chips with the same palatability and acceptability for health-conscious chips buyers.
“Gusto kong gamitin ang oportunidad na ito na maging plataporma ko para mapatunayan na tunay na may pag-asa sa mga kabataan. Kailangan lang na maniwala at magsimula. With my cassava chips business, naniniwala akong maaari akong makapag-ambag ng pagbabago sa buhay ng iba at makatulong sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mga obhetong nailatag ko sa aking proposal,” he related.
Cano’s dream is to establish Pap’s Cassava Chips Processing into a local enterprise that aims to provide livelihood opportunities to local farmers, housekeepers, and Alternative Learning System (ALS) learners by enabling them to have new ways of looking at cassava as a community enterprise. He also wants to encourage and inspire other livelihood engagements in nearby barangays located about 3.9 kilometers away from the town proper.
“Malaki ang naitulong ng cassava chips business ko sa akin hindi lang sa aspeto ng kita. More than income, hindi matutumbasan ang fulfillment na nararamdaman ko dahil alam kong patuloy kong pinagyayaman ang aking kaalaman at kakayahan sa larangan ng agrikultura. Sa pamamagitan ng business na ito, ako ay nangarap na mahimok ang aking mga kapuwa kabataan na subukan ang kapalaran sa mga oportunidad na dala ng agrikultura,” he added. ### (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA V RAFIS)