MISAMIS Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano on Wednesday (March 27) led the groundbreaking of a processing center for oolong tea in barangay Kalagonoy, Gingoog City.
Oolong (camella sinensis) is a traditional semi-oxidized Chinese tea produced through a process including withering the plant under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting which is mostly grown in Taiwan.
Last year, the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAGRO) deployed three of its employees on a training tour in Taiwan, observing the production of oolong from planting and nurturing the seedlings to harvesting the tea leaves to processing.
Kalagonoy barangay chairman Marcial Dotarot said the production of oolong in his barangay was started by a Taiwanese investor in 1997 but it eventually dwindled until the city government of Gingoog and the provincial government of Misamis Oriental saw the potential of the project.
Today, oolong production in Kalagonoy is at six hectares with a potential of 15 hectares in expansion.
“We are not just creating a processing center. We are creating an economy. Kung aduna na kitay processing center diri, many farmers, agriculturists and agriculture students will study the processing. They will commute in our habal-habal. Ang habal-habal driver usab mag-remit sa iyang kinitaan sa iyang asawa. Ang inahan sa pamilya makahatag na dayon og dugang balon sa iyang mga anak. Ang anak usab nga nag-eskwela makaduga’g palit og pagkaon sa tindahan duol sa iyang gieskwelahan. Ang manindahay usab inigtugbong niya’g pangompra sa iyang ipuli og tinda, mag-commute na usab og habal-habal,” Emano pointed out.
The P3.5-million edifice is expected to complete construction in six months.
Once finished, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will hand its corresponding share of P1-million worth of processing equipment.
Representatives from the Food and Innovation Center of the University of Science and Technology of the Philippines (USTP) will train the farmers in Kalagonoy on how to enhance current processing procedures while DTI representatives will assist them in packaging and labeling.
Emano said the tumbler/dryer processing equipment to be handed out by DTI is capable of processing oolong leaves at 45 kilograms per hour.
He added that DTI has likewise committed to include oolong in its promotion of products from Northern Mindanao for export.
Momentarily, the governor reported that processed oolong is always sold out at the weekly farmers market at the provincial capitol compound in Cagayan de Oro City, fetching at P5,000 per kilo.
The oolong production in Kalagonoy is the only one in the Philippines so far.
Provincial agriculturist Jose Apollo Pacamalan said oolong can only grow at least 1,200 above sea level in a temperate climate that is unique to Kalagonoy and the areas surrounding Mt. Balatucan.
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