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Arrowroot also has potential

March 14, 2010

Agri Plain Talk


March 12, 2010, 1:50pm

Arrowroot is probably one of the most neglected crops by our government agriculturists and researchers. But one lady entrepreneur is really obsessed in making this crop a winner that could catapult her province to prominence.

The lady is Mrs. Carmelita Rejano-Reyes, a chemistry graduate who opted to take over the operation of the bakeshop that her parents started in 1946. The bakeshop, now known as Rejano’s Marinduque Deli in Sta. Cruz, specializes in arrowroot cookies and other preparations.

Carmelita proudly says that her arrowroot products are made of pure arrowroot flour so that they virtually melt in the mouth. They are, unlike some arrowroot products from other places which are probably combined with wheat flour.

From the plain arrowroot cookies that her mother used to make, Carmelita has produced variants that are in tune with the health demands of the times. For instance, she has come out with arrowroot cookies with pinipig to add fiber; another is a sugar-free version. Then there is a version enriched with malunggay powder to add some health benefits. To be released soon is an arrowroot cookie using coconut sugar which is claimed to be good for diabetics.

Mrs. Reyes has also improved her production and packaging processes with assistance from the Department of Science and Technology. After participating in a food fair in Manila in 2001, she saw the vast potential of arrowroot products. In 2004, she borrowed P1 million from the Presidential Management Staff to expand her operation. The loan was supposed to be payable in five years but she paid it in just three years.

When DoST saw her keen interest in developing the market, it gave her an interest-free loan of P465,000 to buy mechanical equipment such as grinder, extractor, centrifuge oven, washer and dryer. She paid the loan ahead of time and that is why DoST gave her a second loan of P789,000, also with zero interest, to come up with world class packaging.

She says there is a big market for her high-quality arrowroot products which are now sold in leading supermarkets in Metro Manila. Buyers from Canada, Japan and elsewhere are also interested to buy but she has to defer exports because of the lack of raw materials.

She said she could use 25 tons of arrowroot flour a year but she could only get 15 tons. But she is encouraging more farmers to venture into arrowroot production, assuring them of a ready market for their harvest.

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