The Assistant Regional Director for Operations of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Regional Office IX, Engr. Agnes Y. Maata, presented the topic “Calamansi: The Green Jewel of Nazareth” during the Knowledge Learning Market 3 at SM Megamall, Mega Hall Trade 3, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. The session that started at 3:30pm ended at 4:00pm; Knowledge Facilitators Amina Bidin of WMCIP and Evy R. Elago of NMCIREMP on October 20, 2009 served as hosts.

She talked about the green jewel Calamondin or Calamansi (scientific name: Citrofortunella microcarpa), a bitter-sour fruit serving as a life saver to the women’s group of Barangay Nazareth in the Municipality of Kabasalan, Province of Zamboanga Sibugay, Philippines. The group testifies how this manna from heaven greatly contributes to their daily living.

The over-supply of the highly perishable calamansi was the farmers’ dilemma – do they sell it cheaply or do they just let it rot? This dilemma led them to dream of an added value for their produce. They wanted to process the calamansi and command a better price. Along with this dream came the realization that the women’s association needed to revitalize and strengthen itself as an organization.

ARDO Agnes Y. Maata said that the different interventions of DAR through the IFAD-funded Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project (WMCIP), such as the provision of infrastructure support, technology transfer training, enterprise development, capacity building, microfinance and marketing linkages, enabled the association to effectively manage its Calamansi Processing Center.

During the open forum, a question was raised on other interventions undertaken by DAR for the women’s association even after the WMCIP project was completed in 2007. ARDO Maata answered that DAR continues to provide training on organizational capability building, accounting, and bookkeeping.

In response to the query on the shelf life of the calamansi concentrate being produced by the association, ARDO Agnes Y. Maata said that the product could last for six months.

Aside from being a great source of Vitamin C and an effective cough remedy, the calamansi fruit is also good for removing stains in clothes and can be used as deodorant and shampoo to eliminate itching and promote hair growth. Rubbing the juice on the affected part of insect bites helps diminish the itching and irritation. Also, calamansi can be used to bleach freckles and help clear up pimples and acne.

The session ended with a big smile by everyone as the presenter gave out free drinks of calamansi juice to the audience.

Reported by: Amor Grace B. Babaran, KLM3 Knowledge Facilitator

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