P2-M facility to bring food, snacks nearer to malnourished children
PILI, Camarines Sur—Baby food and snacks made from a blend of rice, mung beans and sesame seeds will be within reach of malnourished children in Camarines Sur province following the inauguration of a P2-million food-processing facility in this agricultural capital town.
The food mix, from locally produced ingredients, was developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. It is “more affordable and nutritious” than its commercial counterparts, Assistant Science Secretary Urduja Tejada said.
Tejada led the inauguration of the food-processing facility at Central Bicol University of Agriculture (CBSUA) in Barangay San Jose more than a week ago. The DOST project—the first medium-scale complementary food-processing facility in the Bicol region—aims to help solve malnutrition and to alleviate poverty in the province.
Data from the DOST showed that among the six provinces of the region, Camarines Sur ranks second with the most number of malnourished children.
The problem persists because low-income families cannot afford the necessary nutritious food needed by the children, said Georgina Bordado, CBSUA president. She noted that the children’s malnourished state was also the main factor why they ended up poor.
“Malnourished children are said to be poor learners in school. Poor learning results in them being unskilled and with no functional literacy, thus limiting their opportunities for gainful employment,” Bordado said.
Tejada, who is also the DOST’s project manager for countryside development, said her agency hopes the food-processing facility could help curb malnutrition, which remains to be a prevalent problem in the country.
The facility is the fifth to be inaugurated in the country after those in the cities of Tuguegarao, General Santos and Batangas, and in Palawan province.
In Bicol region, the local government of nearby Iriga City has been operating a small-scale version of the facility in Barangay San Agustin since April last year. It sells the baby food blend for P5 per single-serving pack.
Bordado said the Pili facility could also help local farmers since they were expected to supply the raw materials. The food mix contains the vital nutrients needed by children ages up to 3 years old, such as protein found in mung beans, carbohydrates in rice grain, and zinc and calcium in sesame seeds.
The facility is expected to produce 30 kilograms of the baby food mix daily. It will be fully operational by June, after the training of its staff.
After the pilot run here, Bordado said she hopes to cater to nearby municipalities, such as Lagonoy, Tigaon and Gainza, which reported that at least 22 percent of its children ages not more than 6 years old are underweight.
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