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Ceremonial check turnover with the following representatives (L-R): Iligan City Councilor Jesse Ray N. Balanay, IARPC President Mr. Allan Wynn L. Tamula, Iligan City Vice Mayor Jemar L. Vera Cruz, Iligan City Treasurer Louela S. Maybituin, DOST Lanao del Norte CEST Coordinator Ms. Gerrylou Sweet M. Pia, Office of the Congressman Community Affairs Officer Ms. Armien Alloro and Iligan City CDLO Supervising Cooperative Development Specialist Ms. Lilibeth Razo.

DOST-Lanao del Norte turned over Php 631,160 worth of Banana Processing Technology to Iligan Agri-Rainbow Producers Cooperative (IARPC) through its Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) Program on August 5, 2021, via online conference.

IARPC consists of 24 female and 25 male agricultural entrepreneurs in Iligan City. It supports hinterland farmers engaged in coffee, banana, mango, and cacao farming. They saw the demand for their banana crops decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic since banana cue and turon consumers in public schools and public markets are isolating at home.

Ms. Gerrylou Sweet M. Pia, DOST-Lanao del Norte CEST Coordinator, identified the predicament as a value-adding opportunity to produce both the Gluten-Free Banan Flour and Potassium-Riche Banana Peel Fertilizer. The DOST grant consists of a slicing machine, dehydrator, flour mill, chaffing machine, moisture meter, stainless-steel table, and stainless-steel sink with laboratory analysis for the products.

“Tungod sa inyung suporta, ma encourage na atong mga farmer magtanom (ug mu-amoma) og saging kay nia nay cooperative nga mudawat sa ilang abot. [Because of your support, our farmers will be encouraged to plant (and to care for) banana plants because our cooperative can directly accept their produce.]," said IARPC President Allan Wynn L. Tamula during the ceremonial turn-over.

Vice Mayor Vera Cruz agreed that despite the fertility of the city hinterlands, there is still not much support for its residents. Stakeholders involved in this project greatly anticipate improvement of the living conditions among the hinterland Iliganons.

The CEST program encourages the synergistic efforts of DOST, partner beneficiaries, and local government units to ensure the sustainable implementation of projects. (Reymart T. Deligero, DOST-Lanao del Norte)