The taro root is a edible plant that grows easily in the Philippines in the regions with swampy, wet soil. It is traditionally used in stews made with pork or beef. It is quite nutritious, supplying vitamins E & B6 plus potassium and manganese. It is also provides a lot of fiber and is low in salt and saturated fat. It has become an income generator for a small group of women at St John’s mission in Nayon, Philippines.
Starting with a micro-loan from Ecare, a partner to the Australian Board of Missions, the women, under the leadership of Dolores Bayucca, the chair of the women’s group, the women developed a tasty baked chip sliced from the taro root. The program from Ecare is called Asset-Based Community Development. The ABCD program encourages folks to use skills they already have and locally obtained resources to generate new personal income.
The women at St John’s Mission used their micro-loan to grow, harvest, process and package the taro root chips. Because of the popularity of their chips they were able to repay the loan in a short time. Additionally, because the chips are nutritious, Ecare became one of their primary buyers. Ecare finds the chips more nutritious than the other packaged foods which are usually donated for disaster relief. They distributed the chips to survivors of Typhoon Hayian.
With the income generated buy the micro-industry the individual women have been able to improve the lives of their families. One woman reported now being able to buy soap for her family with seven children. The industry has expanded since beginning three years ago and now employs 12 women from the mission. Additionally they have qualified for a grant from the Philippine government’s Department of Science and Technology. This will allow them to purchase processing equipment which will ease and streamline production of the chips.
The managers of the ABCD program report that the women involved in this enterprise have demonstrated added confidence and managerial skills. This “is helping to empower communities in determining their own future.”
The main image and information for this story are from the Anglican Communion News Service.