THE island of Samar is known for its rich forestry, natural resources, with different variety of fruit-bearing trees and plants, root crops, and coconuts. No matter how abundant, its three provinces remain at the bottom half of the country’s less developed provinces. People continue to strive for their livelihood.

There may be various factors affecting this but one could be the high insurgence by armed communist groups and communities held under their influence. This is one prevailing national issue that is directly affecting communities in the countryside.

Though its success may be measured by the number of surrenderees and communist groups turned down, it is also evident through stories of communities with emerging entrepreneurial groups .

The Binato Banana Chips is a fruit of the whole-of-nation approach in poverty reduction through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC). Livelihood was established in one of the under-developed and unreached barangays in Calibiga, Samar.

Vicente Candido of DTI Samar
Mr. Vicente L. Candido of DTI Samar encourages the locals of Brgy. Guimbanga that there is a big potential for their product.

DTI Samar, being part of the the Provincial Task Force ELCAC under the Poverty Reduction, Livelihood and Employment Clus-ter (PRLEC), has intentionally targeted communities in barangays that may be reached through the Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (NSB) Program.

In August 2019, one of the barangays reached was Barangay Guimbanga in  Calbiga. It was also a priority barangay for the 46th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army as part of its commitment to deliver the basic services of the government to far-flung com-munities.

During the Business Community Identification of DTI, a Community Dialogue Participation was conducted by the Samar Provin-cial Task Force ELCAC composed of DTI, PLGU-Samar, Office of Cong. Ann Tan, LGU-Calbiga, TESDA, Office of the Provincial Agriculture, 801st Brigade and 46th IB of the Philippine Army with the group of binato banana producers.

Binato is a local variety of banana abundantly growing in Guimbanga with a distinct sweet aroma and rich taste. For it is abundant in the area, it was identified by the task force to process and develop for the community’s start up business.

A Community-based Skills Training on Organic Banana Chips Processing was conducted by DTI on September 30, 2019 to har-ness the skills of these locals in producing binato banana chips. The training cost which includes raw materials, tools and equipment, packaging and labeling materials, and trainer’s honorarium were all covered by DTI. The materials used were aslo turned over to the group.

Binato Banana Chips with newly developed packaging and label.

The group’s first output was sent to the BAHANDI Eastern Visayas Trade Fair in Manila last October 2019 for market test and it sold well. From then on, production of the binato banana chips continued and started to receive orders from government agencies. The DTI Negosyo Center Calbiga assisted them in their packaging and labeling, promotion and market-matching, linking this group and their product to consolidators, pasalubong centers and buyers.

Their product was branded Binato Banana Chips promoting their naturally-grown bananas.

From September to December 2019, their president reported a total net profit of PHP 19, 000.00 and they were also able to dis-tribute dividends among the members.

On the first quarter of 2020, DTI Samar replenished their packaging and labeling materials. It is the same period that the group was formally recognized as an association and was registered to the Department of Labor and Employment  as Guimbanga Farmer’s Association with 22 males and 15 females bringing a total of 37 members.

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused their production to temporarily stop but it was eventually restored on May 1, 2020.

Since the Office of the Provincial Government of Samar and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist saw the potential of this group, the offices funded Guimbanga’s Processing Center. It was inspected last June 24, 2020 is now operational.

An assisted banana-chips producer demonstrates how to properly wash and select the best bananas for the chips.

This development  of the Binato Banana Chips and the formation of the Guimbanga Farmer’s Association marks the beginning of enabling livelihood, facilitating income and jobs generation in remote areas like that of Calbiga, Samar.

Guimbanga’s story proves the positive change through whole-of nation approach to combat insurgence and  validates the efficacy DTI’s programs in the countryside through the Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay and Negosyo Center.

Now, the community is never the same.

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