Balbalan, Kalinga – The 132 members of YMabaca Farmers Association (YMFA) from Balbalan, Kalinga are eying to locally produce the “basi” (sugarcane wine) and muscovado sugar. This is after attending the production and processing training conducted by the Department of Agriculture Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA-SAAD) on November 28.
Sugarcane wine, traditionally called “basi” or “bayas” in some parts of Kalinga, is a local beverage produced by crushing the sugarcane to extract the juice. It is boiled in vats then stored in earthen jars (tapayan or gusi) for the fermentation process which could take several years to turn it into wine.
Muscovado, on the other hand, is a pure whole, unrefined, non-centrifugal cane sugar made as a by-product of winemaking.
In October 2021, the group received sugarcane cutting intervention worth P400,000 under the FY 2021 Sugarcane Production Project of the Department of Agriculture. The group planted the cuttings immediately in an estimated 2-hectare plot of land, and they expect to harvest it from May to November next year.
During the training, the group harvested some existing sugarcane plants in their village and used them for processing demonstration, which was actively participated by all the association’s members.
The two best local wine makers, Eduardo Tongdo and Fidel Apaling, were also tapped as resource speakers for basi-and muscovado-making.
“Dayta panagmula ti unas ti tunggal maysa a beneficiary ket dakkel nga accomplishment, gumaget dagiti farmers. Ken mayat ta at least matulungan dagiti farmers a mangi-market iti basi da ta they are one of the best basi makers in Balbalan,” Apaling said.
The beneficiaries expressed gratitude for the project, as it is the first time that sugarcane processing training had been conducted in their barangay.
The group said that producing their own wine and sugar products would be of great help to them since commercially produced products continue to get expensive in the market.
The group divulged that reviving their local products and preserving their culture and tradition is beneficial not only for the organization but also for the whole community.
Apart from the sugarcane production training, DA also provided the group free chicken, vegetable, and swine inputs as options to venture into other potential income-generating projects.
About the group
The YMFA has at least 132 household members from Barangay Mabaca in Balbalan. Members are mostly farmers earning below the poverty threshold.
Most had long been cultivating sugarcane, but only a few are involved with its production and processing due to lack of proper training and high cost of inputs.
Barangay Mabaca is a remote and mountainous place gifted with large agricultural land of about 2,453 hectares, which is the largest land among the other barangays of the municipality.
The barangay can only be reached by foot through a 3–4-hour hike from the last accessible road by vehicles.
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