Sugar processed from nipa is steadily becoming a favorite among local consumers, according to a veteran enterprise development specialist.
Tony Peralta, who helped shepherd an infantile processing project in Surigao del Sur into one that now produces nipa sugar, says that “with today’s populations becoming more and more health-conscious, it is gratifying that we have viable alternatives for our daily sweetened intakes.”
Peralta was referring to a sugar product organically produced by the Sitio Ipil Winemakers Association (SIWA) farmer participants in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.
His team, members of the Foundation for Rural Enterprise and Ecology Development of Mindanao (Freedom), have been providing trainings on harvesting, processing, and packaging nipa palm sugar for the farmers’ association since last year.
The trainings also aimed at empowering the SIWA members to properly handle their business venture, specifically to help them identify markets and overcome challenges related to startups.
Freedom had earlier launched a study titled, “Adoption and Utilization of Nipa Palm Sugar Processing Technology in Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur, ” in conjunction with its support to SIWA.
Eventually, the Municipality of Lanuza enjoyed full marketing rights to purchase the nipa palm sugar for resale to the public.
Already, specialty shops like the Eco Store chain are catching up with the product and displaying it on their shelves.
Nipa sugar is a natural product of the nipa palm crop. Unlike conventional table sugar, it has no aftertaste and produces distinctive aroma when blended.
“Freedom is keen on continuing its support to the project,” says Peralta. “Our vision is really to aid farmer organizations in the Philippines on their agri-businesses.”
Prior to founding Freedom in 1998, Peralta was a banker and economist. He once worked with international financial and multilateral institutions in Southeast Asia, Australia and the United States.
“Our job is to inspire and empower rural communities,” he echoes Freedom’s vision.