TOFA members pose with their products
Promotions In the Works
We are happy to note that in the previous report, the community is sustaining the momentum of the enterprise. Currently, TOFA is consolidating its venture especially the continued operation of the Store and Food House and reaching out to other members of the community to participate in the organizational activities as regards herbal processing food production and livestock raising.
Currently, the TOFA Store and Food House has slowly gained an increased number of patronizers of herbal products and organic food menu in the eatery. Key officers of the store food house mentioned that aside from them directly promoting the store and products to local government offices and schools, the consumers themselves through word of mouth began informing family members and acquaintances to check out TOFA store for product displays and offers.
Consumers who visited the store also get a chance to learn about basic health care as the women tending the store provide “on-the-spot” advisories on alternative health care approaches. This is limited though on topics associated with the herbal products they have processed and are selling where they undertook basic orientation course from Community-based Health Program Services (CBHPs) which SIBAT partnered in developing the knowledge and skills of TOFA members.
Aside from that, TOFA members also shared to customers their food production activities particularly organic vegetable raising. They shared the story of how they were able to cope with additional food supply by developing small parcels of backyard lots and communal production areas to produce short term crops that enabled them to have food access even while Yoland rehabilitation work was going on. This way customers get to understand that rebuilding their lives also necessitates their willingness to help themselves and cooperate with organizations and agencies extending assistance aside from just being passive beneficiaries of relief help. This somehow help create a mindset that post-disaster recovery is not only the sole responsibility of government or external agencies but importantly by the victims themselves.
Increasing Product Lines
TOFA continuous to develop and produce beauty and health products. Among the herbal products that gained popularity among consumers included turmeric capsules, dried moringa leaves, capsulized mangoosten fruits, virgin coconut oil, rice coffee, and herbal drinks. Turmeric capsules are still the top seller , but due to longer drought production decreased though to just 1,000 capsules a month compared to 2,500 capsules monthly. Still the capsules are sold at U$0.30 per pack of 10 capsules. Powdered Moringga production remains at 2,000 capsules per month as the tree is can thrive well even during dry periods. These are still sold at U$.40 per pack of 10 capsules.
In earlier report, the women are refining the processing of ginger teas and ginger candy. Recently, they are doing commercial test run of the products and are still monitoring consumer acceptance.
They now also have some types of herbal tonic made from lemon grass, citronella and other nutritional herbs combined to produce herbal drinks as a form of supplement to boost body stamina and immune system. They are now also on display at the TOFA store.
They also maintained production of beauty products such as soaps made of papaya extract, cucumber, radish, carrots. Guava fruit extract has been experimented but due to limited supply, production is limited compared to the ones made of radish , “kamias” cucumber and papaya due to the abundance of supply in the area.
It is interesting to note likewise that some coconut trees not totally felled off during the storm have recovered sooner than expected. TOFA members are planning to optimize the early rejuvenation of these trees to develop their coconut virgin oil processing further.
Need for Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD) Registration
The TOFA members are aware that in order to scale up and mainstream their products to commercial outlet later on, these have to pass the stringent evaluation of the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration. But for now, being in the developing stage, the community has been allowed to sell the products having been noted to have used basic vegetable-based ingredients that they themselves produced without a mix of any prohibited substances. For now TOFA will just cater to local consumers and will have to defer meantime application for BFAD registration also due to the stringent requirements and cost which they could not afford at present situation.
Preparing for the Typhoon Months
As of this writing, the country is into the wet season and typhoon months. We do hope and pray that no virulent storms would strike the country to save the communities from another catastrophic event.
As regards ensuring food after disaster, the community has learned its lesson and have come to know that root crops are best suited to withstand floods, winds and heavy rains and come handy after the storm as ready available food source.
Hence, at the onset of the rainy season, the communities continue to sustain planting various types of sweet potates, yam, and cassava. They are maximizing the demonstration farms this planting season by intensifying root crop production like sweet potatoes and yam. They are still targeting to produce 15-20 sacks of these as food buffers among members and those who will be in need when there’s food shortage in the event that storm disasters happen.
To sustain production in demonstration and individual gardens, the community also sustained their own stock of organic fertilizers. The venture also is a source of income for the organization as members themselves patronize the produce as primary consumers. These are sold to members at 5-10 pesos a kilo. For large volume users, per sack is sold at P90.00 which is still very affordable compared to hazardous chemical fertilizers that are also very expensive and way beyond the purchasing capacities of farmers.
Happy Hog and Chicken Raisers
The small capital loans to raise poultry, goat and swine as complementary livelihood activities to about 23 women and 24 men combined earlier made them happy hog and chicken raisers. Some already sold eggs from the chicken just at their locality and the hogs are adapting well to alternative management utilizing a combination of commercial and local feeds.
The only limitation though, is that loan support is inadequate to extend to other members who wanted to venture into livestock raising. Some members are extending stock materials at least for chicken for others who are willing to undertake livestock growing in the absence of loan. This is a process that has still to be firmed up as a policy that TOFA has yet to discuss about.
The community also is preparing for some measures how to safe keep the animals when typhoon occurs. This is part of their disaster preparation to avert losses especially that capital fund are uncured as loans.
Road to Resiliency
With this development, SIBAT observed that the seeds of self reliance and adoptive capacity has been imbibed slowly by the community despite the difficulties they encountered. At least this marks a significant step on the way how people should act and respond to calamities (noting Leyte lies within the typhoon corridor of the Philippines). For certain they may need for enabling assistance as they continue to nurture the organizational cooperation that help them made some strides in standing up once more after Yolanda and hopefully maintain their resiliency no matter how difficult it would be in some instance in the future . SIBAT is again grateful for partnership support extended especially from Global Giving to extend such support and to be part of the effort of building back better and helping communities recover after devastation.
customer buying herbal products at the store
TOFA members after store meeting
TOFA communal farm
consumers at the store
customers eating organic food at the food house
organic vegetables sold at TOFA store