DOLE Fund. DOLE - Davao Region Assistant Regional Director Venerando C. Cebrano (2nd from right) presents to Marcelo M. Berondo, project manager of Progressive Highland Multipurpose Cooperative the check amounting to P425,892 for the expansion of  the Co-op's feed-grade banana powder production. Also in photo are DOLE Davao City Field Office Head Dennis Badilles (rightmost) and other members of PHMPC. (Phot by Sherwin B. Manual) Davao City — Banana farmers here find additional income by turning banana throwaways to banana powder.  And demand is increasing.

To boost their production, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Davao Region has provided additional P425,982 fund for the Progressive Highland Multi-purpose Cooperative (PHMPC) to expand production of feed-grade banana powder.

“The funding is allotted for additional facilities including two hot houses, mechanical siever, warehouse for dried chipped banana and for their vermiculture production and training,” said DOLE Davao City livelihood focal Cristy Coro.

She said that the area is highly mountainous and has mostly rainy weather which causes 3 to 4 days delay in sun-drying the chipped banana.

“The new facilities we will put up will ensure quantity and quality of production,” she said.

Feed-grade banana powder as an essential component for industrial products such as hog and poultry feeds.

Located in Sitio Baracayo, Brgy. Daliaon, in Toril District, PHMPC is an Agrarian Reform Beneficiary with 740 members who are farmers, plantation workers and growers of Cavendish banana in a farm with an aggregate total of 246 hectares.

“The project is environment  friendly. It uses reject Cavendish banana processed into banana powder (feed grade). The Co-op has already institutional buyers which demanded for higher production,” PHMPC’s project proposal stated.

From the present 19-ton monthly production of feed-grade banana powder, the Co-op eyes to expand to produce 34 tons or more every month as required by its buyer Bex Philippines.

“Along with this expansion we also see increases employment among the members of the cooperative,” Coro said.

The cooperative is also engaged in micro-lending, consumer store, job contracting services, propping and hauling services, agri-marketing of bananas, vegetables and seasonal fruits, bakery and noodles making which are all operational. The bakery project of cooperative was also funded by the DOLE.

Sherwin B. Manual/ DOLE 11