Amidst the pandemic that the country is facing today, SUCs are likewise faced with the challenge on how to assist their community in ensuring food security while providing sustainable livelihood to their locals, and at the same time taking part in combatting COVID-19 spread by contributing to the country’s much-needed supply of antiseptics / disinfectants.
Being an agricultural institution that hails its flagship as, “The seed of life-changing technology,” CPSU eagerly responds to this call of helping the community by developing and extending effective, practical and sustainable innovations and agri-related practices. One of which is the recently concluded farmers’ training on “Essential Oil Production and Processing” held at CPSU Main Campus last July 28-29, 2020. This activity was made possible through the private-public partnership of CPSU, Extension and Community Services Office, RU Foundry and Machine Shop Corporation, and the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc.
Attended by a total of 30 participants, both farmers and CPSU personnel, the activity was aimed at developing farmers’ knowledge, skills and attitude on the technical production and processing of essential oils using indigenous resources, such as lemon grass and citronella, to help strengthen the essential oil industry considering the huge demand for disinfectants by the consuming public, along with its other uses and benefits. With the target of improving the overall yield and quality of locally and organically produced essential oils, this initiative is also foreseen to boost small enterprises within the community and help in the improvement of the local economy especially in the Province of Negros Occidental.
Dr. Jimmy Degillo, Director for Extension and Community Services, stated that their aim was to share these home-based ideas to the community for the farmers to be aware on how to produce essential oils made from locally available materials that are cost-effective, economically viable and essential especially during these most pressing times.
In the entire duration of the training, Mr. Dante P. Escarmoso, resource person, and program manager of the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc., led the participants in an engaging and interactive discussion on the process of preparing essential oils from citronella and lemon grass, which mainly involved hands on activities in the actual preparation of the product.
Towards the end of the training, the group was able to produce 90 liters of hydrosol as sanitizer, and more than 20 bottles of essential oil from citronella and lemon grass which could also be used as an ingredient in preparing various products such as disinfectants, detergents, soaps, toilet products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, confectionery food products, soft drinks, distilled alcoholic beverages and insecticides, among others.
From this, the creation of wealth community level with emphasis on economic circulation becomes the main goal as the farmers will be considered partners for the supply of the needed raw materials, as well as in the process of producing the oil, thus providing livelihood to these farmers, as well. The products will then be commercialized to serve as income generating project (IGP) of the University.
Dr. Moraca, CPSU President, explained that there are three (3) main targets in the realization of this training. First is to sow in the heart of the students the passion to commit and engage in techno-preneurial activities like this as part of their laboratory, bringing them to their realization that there is “gold in grass.” The second goal is to circulate income to serve as IGP of the institution; and finally, to introduce to the farmers this technology as their means of livelihood.
“It is expected that everybody would take part in creating wealth in the community and the University by developing sustainable technologies that would also serve as learning model for students to become entrepreneurs in the future,” Dr. Moraca added.
Indeed, this training is a timely and effective move in addressing pandemic concerns that affect the livelihood and safety of the community, as well as a proof of how partnerships can go a long way in realizing goals for the greater good of the community, the University and the Province as a whole.