ZAMBOANGA CITY— With more people being fond of hot and spicy food, restaurants in the city are in need of chili suppliers who could meet their demand.

Taking advantage of this demand in Zamboanga Peninsula, the beneficiaries of DOLE’s Project HOPE (Helping Others Prosper Economically) has now prioritized the production of chili peppers as one of their farming activities in the demo farm at Zamboanga Economic Zone and Freeport Authority in Talisayan, Zamboanga City.

Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo shared that Project HOPE is envisioned not only to be a permanent solution to the displacement of workers in the fishing and canning industry during the Closed Fishing Season but also a sustainable livelihood project for its beneficiaries as it moves towards different entrepreneurial ventures through agricultural farming.

“In a pledging session with stakeholders and potential buyers held on June 18, 2019, chili was one of the major crops identified for planting in the demo-farm as it has high demand, high price value and a sure market,” said Director Domingo.

In particular, the demo-farm seeks to plant one of the hottest chili varieties in the world known as Chili Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (TMS) with a Scoville Heat Unit of 1.2 million.

To equip the beneficiaries with appropriate knowledge on rearing this variety, DOLE 9 conducted a training on Chili Production Protocols participated by 10 of the project’s team leaders and 15 of their dependents at the demo-farm from July 14-20, 2019.

DOLE 9 invited expert resource speakers Mr. Erman Sabia and Mr. George Allen Callora from Mindanao Chili Growers Association, a Davao-based group composed of over 1,000 Mindanao growers and hot sauce makers.

The participants were introduced to concepts of land preparation for chili planting, preparation of fertilizer concoctions with application methods, proper germination of seeds, transplanting and preparation of
vermicompost bed. They also applied their knowledge on greenhouse construction for seedlings and germination area during one of their hands-on demonstrations.

Mary Jane D. Gonzaga, President of the Project HOPE Workers Association, expressed her gratitude to DOLE 9 and the resource speakers:

“In behalf of the association, we are grateful for DOLE’s continuous support to this project. We are positive that what we’ve learned from the training will be translated into something productive and useful for the demo farm’s growth.”

With the establishment of greenhouse and nursery for chili plants, the association will be able to produce enough supply of chili to manufacture chili pepper products and hopefully market them all over the Region and in the future, nationally and internationally. ###