June 13, 2023
A Japanese company Kuwanosato, Inc. is supporting farmers in Pampanga to rise above poverty by introducing a mulberry tea production technology through a Public-Private Partnership Promotion program of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Kuwanosato, Inc. started the project with JICA and Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU) entitled "Verification Survey with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technologies for Mulberry Tea Leaves Project" in Pampanga in 2018. Said agencies have previously partnered to conduct the related feasibility survey, which was completed in 2017, to testify the potential of the value chain of mulberry tea in Pampanga as well.
Farmers in Pampanga have struggled to raise income and productivity especially since Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Thus, turning to high value crops such as mulberries has potential to help local farmers earn more money. Such efforts also align with the Central Luzon Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 that prioritizes income generation through high value crops and collaboration of agriculture, commerce, and industry.
"JICA has been introducing new technology and innovation to move up the agriculture value chain in the Philippines. I sincerely congratulate on the inauguration of the first-ever mulberry tea processing plant in the Philippines. This is important in agro-industry development, jobs creation, and income generation. It also contributes to meeting the growing demand of Filipino consumers for healthier lifestyles. We can say it is a win-win partnership because Japanese companies like Kuwanosato are given a platform to expand its business overseas, while the Philippines benefits economically from Japanese expertise," said JICA Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema
The mulberry tea making equipment from Japan was originally installed in early 2020, but, hampered by the Covid-19 restrictions, it was inaugurated only this week at the PSAU's mulberry tea factory. The factory can process up to 500kg of raw leaves in 8 hours, producing around 100kg of mulberry tea.
PSAU President, Dr. Anita David, expressed the university's gratitude to JICA for the donated processing equipment and said that "JICA paved the way for the [big] dream of [Kuwanosato and PSAU] through [this] Mulberry Tea Factory Project. We are one in making the project a successful one in the coming years so that the [big dream] would be a [bigger reality]."
At present, the project is piloting mulberry cultivation techniques with three (3) model farms in Pampanga, who supply the mulberry leaves to be processed into tea in the facility in PSAU. Moving forward, Kuwanosato and PSAU hopes to sustainably commercialize mulberry tea products from Pampanga that will cater both to local and export demands, including Japan.
Farmers of the model farms in Pampanga affirmed the benefits of cultivating mulberries which has provided them an opportunity for more business and higher income.
On the other end of the value chain, mulberry tea is also expected to contribute to the promotion of good health among consumers due to its high nutritional content. Mulberry tea is a well-known natural and caffeine-free drink, which is very useful for weight loss, cholesterol reduction and diabetes control, among others.
Other than agriculture, JICA's Partnership with the Private Sector program has also introduced many Japanese innovations with social impact to the Philippines in areas such as disaster management, environment, and education among others.
L-R: JICA Philippines Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema, Embassy of Japan Minister NIHEI Daisuke, Kuwanosato President Han Seong Min, District Representative Carmelo Lazatin II, PSAU President Anita David, and Magalang Mayor Maria Lourdes Lacson.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is the executing agency of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA), which handles technical cooperation, ODA loans and investment, and grant aid, as well as cooperation volunteers and disaster relief programs. JICA is the world's largest bilateral aid agency with its scale of operations amounting to about JPY 1,536.1 billion for JFY 2021 and a worldwide network of almost 100 overseas offices including the Philippines.
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