Feature: How technology helped banana chips get that perfect cruch

Healthy, crispy and crunchy-- these kinds of snacks are what most health conscious people prefer. But when it was still starting, Malitbog Banana Chips was not delightfully crunchy. In fact, customers and other stakeholders said that the product needed to improve its quality, labeling, and packaging.

The story of Malitbog Banana Chips in Malitbog, Bukidnon started in 2011 with funding sourced from the Mindanao North Coast Integrated Development Project of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the municipal government of Malitbog. The local government unit (LGU) funded the construction of the building while DA funded the purchase of equipment. The LGU started its operation through the effort of a local finance committee.

Operations got underway and the banana chip products became available in the market. However, it did not get a very good feedback.

Fortuitously, the Department of Science and Technology's Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program was launched in Malitbog, Bukidnon as pilot site. CEST aims to empower poor and depressed communities through science and technology (S&T) interventions in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, basic education, and livelihood development.

Sample taste tests were conducted during the consultation and presentation of CEST program with local officials and department heads by the DOST Regional Office and Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSTC) in Bukidnon. The tests yielded the same information: The banana chips had a rancid taste and needed packaging and labeling improvement.

Also, after the first site assessment of PSTC Bukidnon, it was found that the processing area, equipment, and process flow also had to be improved - an implication that the whole process should actually be enhanced.

Thus, in 2013, the LGU of Malitbog sought the assistance of DOST through CEST for the upgrading of the common service facility for banana chips processing. The processing facility was upgraded through the acquisition of equipment such as spiral mixer, vacuum packaging machine, deep fryers, digital weighing scale, refractometer, and industrial thermometer. Other interventions included enhancement training of the banana chips processing including compliance to Good Manufacturing Processes for food safety standards.

At present, Malitbog Banana Chips as a brand is now making a name in the market through pasalubong centers in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro City. Most importantly, the economic activity in the municipality is moving, employing women from the indigenous Higaonon tribe, and providing livelihood for Cardava Banana farmers

Source: Philippine Information Agency

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