|Food Chain No. 21 - July 1997 (ITDG, 1997, 20 p.)|
|Fruit factory in the forest|
|Adding value to bananas|
|Artisanal production of maltose from cassava starch|
|Containerized dairies - Europe and beyond|
|Success in business - advice from a successful businessman|
|A profitable and sustainable small-scale food processing activity|
The manufacture of jam using forest fruit satisfies both the need to preserve the ancestral forests and replaces traditional income generation from basket making.
The Kalahan Educational Foundation (KEF) runs an exciting income generating project in the heart of a watershed region of the Philippine Cordillera mountains on the island of Luzon. Making jam from forest fruit is not a new idea; however this project has managed to begin marketing in Philippine supermarkets and now looks to export surplus production to Europe. The project is integrated into a successful reforestation project combining soil improvement with ecological education.
The Northern Ikalahan people live in an area some 250km north of Manila on the island of Luzon, in a mountainous and once heavily forested region. The KEF is a Peoples Organization organised by Ikalahan tribal elders. It manages an area of 15,000 hectares of forest reserve comprising traditional Ikalahan tribal lands, including a core area of primary rainforest. KEF also runs a secondary level school strengthening Ikalahan cultural identity whilst maintaining traditional structures and relationships and introducing appropriate technologies for developing their resources.
Traditional 'slash and burn' subsistence agriculture has been under pressure for many years from commercial logging and local population pressures. More and more pressure has forced farming to extend into primary watershed areas. A main road passes through the centre of the region, bringing urban and non-tribal values, undermining local authority structures particularly tribal elders. Pressures to maintain income levels have led to family members living and working outside the area.
The KEF reforestation project has managed to reduce the area of slash and burn agriculture by 50 per cent whilst maintaining production levels by soil improvement. This has been achieved by planting Japanese alder trees on farm sites being returned to forest during the two year planting cycle. Their deep tap roots bring up subsoil nutrients, which are transferred to the surface soil through leaf litter. The resulting dark crumbly soil can be re-used for farming within seven years instead of the usual fifteen years.
A typical farming cycle begins with the burning off of an area of secondary growth forest which may have been worked through many generations. Maize, yams, beans and vegetables are inter-cropped with the main crop of sweet potatoes. Citrus, avocado, jakfruit and wild mango trees are then planted for later harvesting. Contour planting and mulching helps preserve soil fertility.
The reforestation project manages a team of forest guards whose job is to police illegal forest clearing and grazing. Fines and reparations are levied on lawbreakers and a permit system allows the project to monitor and control where new farms are begun. Farmers are educated about watershed and regeneration management.
THE JAM FACTORY
The manufacture of jam using forest fruit satisfies both the need to preserve the ancestral forests and replaces traditional income generation from basket making. These high quality products required much labour and couldn't compete with cheaper imitations. In addition, raw materials were more and more difficult to find.
The Kalahan Food Processing Centre was founded in 1980. Over a three or four year period a number of jams and jellies were researched and processed. These included wild guava, dagway and dikay (wild grape). Since then passion fruit, bignay, santol, tamarind and ginger have been used in a variety of jellies, jams, conserves and fruit butters. The factory uses no preservatives to maintain the healthiness of the pesticide-free fruit.
Over 25 per cent of the 540 families living in the reserve area gain significant cash income from bringing fruit to the factory. Fruit is brought to the unit by local villagers and then checked by the unit manager before purchase. Only high quality fruit is accepted in order to maintain the quality of the finished product. The first stage of the process is juice extraction. Fruit is boiled in water (harder fruits) or squeezed and rubbed (passionfruit and citrus), then hot-packed. This method of intermediate preservation allows maximum usage of fruit during the harvest sea son, so that jam making can proceed at a slower batch rate when there is less pressure of work.
The second stage is the final cooking on a charcoal stove. Water is boiled off until the required consistency is reached, which is determined by dropping a sample into water to check for the soft ball stage. (Soft hall stage is when a small drop of the syrup is placed in cold water it can be formed into a soft hall with the fingers. If the syrup disperses in the water, the jam will be too runny and the syrup requires further cooking. Care should be taken not to overcook, as the jam will become too stiff). The product is then poured into boiled glass jars and sealed with twist grip lids and tamper-proof seals. Individual batches, each consisting of about ten jars are checked for quality against standard products and then labelled for despatch. The factory reports no difficulties getting labels or packaging materials from suppliers in Manila.
There is now very little waste generated in the processing of the guava fruit. What little waste is produced is fed to the pigs, whose waste will be converted into biogas to fuel the factory.
One of the first products to be developed at the factory was guava jelly. However, the producers were unhappy with the amount of waste that was being generated and so developed a second product. By sieving the pulp twice, the second sieve finer than the first, a fine butter-like mush was obtained. Unfortunately the colour was a very unattractive yellow hut this was greatly improved by the addition of a little red Bignay fruit juice. The juice also added a rather unique and attractive flavour but the flavour was still too bland, so a little cinnamon was added to improve it further. The sugar content was then adjusted to about 45 per cent for preservation.
This product, successfully marketed as guava butter, must be boiling when it is packed and it must be done very quickly to avoid any contamination. Even the funnels, bottles and lids that are used must be at boiling temperature because it is very difficult to sterilize the product in the jar by the hot pack or any other method because of its heavy consistency.
Studying the same raw materials they decided to produce one more product from the guavas. They chose the best and most attractive guavas, sliced them into long thin strips (after the seeds had been removed) and cooked them, with a little of the juice which had been extracted from the other guavas, until they were soft. Sugar was added to 45 per cent for preservation, and cooking continued until the slices were cooked but still retained their shape. This Guava jam did not need any additional colouring or flavour.
There is now very little waste generated in the processing of the guava fruit. What little waste is produced is fed to the pigs, whose waste in turn will be converted into biogas to fuel the factory.
Current recipes favour high sugar products which are suited to Philippino tastes, however product development is underway to reduce the sugar levels for European markets. A reduction in sugar leads to better fruit flavours.
The unit markets 85 per cent of its production (40,000 jars/year) in Manila, through quality supermarkets in the main shopping complexes. Their customers are typically car owning professionals, for whom price is not a major issue. They appreciate the higher quality of Kalahan jams relative to competitors inferior products. KEF currently holds 2 - 3 per cent of the market and aims for 10 - 12 per cent.
Repeat exports have been made to a network of Third World shops in Germany, where customers received the Kalahan products enthusiastically. The unit is now trying to solve the demanding requirements of mainstream food retailing in the UK markets. The market requires certain labelling standards and information, jar sizes to be specified and jam types defined by sugar content.
Enquiries about the project can be addressed directly to Father Delbert Rice, at Kalahan Educational Foundation, Imugan, Nueva Vizcaya, Luzon, Philippines. Andy Good works for Equal Exchange Trading Ltd. 10 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, UK - a small workers co-operative marketing food products from small farmers organizations in the Third World. They distribute primarily into wholefood and health food shops in the independent retail sector in Britain.