By Isaac Abello
Regional Applied Communications Group (RACG)
"Kung ang paho kag kalamansi may fruits, ang aton nga labor may fruits man (If mango and calamansi bear fruits, so do our hard work)," Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) Rebecca Tubongbanua said in a radio interview at Bombo Radyo Iloilo’s “Unlad Pinoy” program aired on June 18, 2011 over DyFM Bombo Radyo Iloilo.
In her interview with radio host John Talento in one of the segments of “Unlad Pinoy,” a weekly program aired every Saturday at 9 a.m., MS Tubongbanua shared about how she started small as an entrepreneur and went on to become successful in her business venture.
Starting on a capital of 7,000 pesos in August 2003, MS Rebecca Tubongbanua first produced calamansi concentrate with honey. At the time, the future farmer scientist of the Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) wanted to help calamansi producers in her own locality to enhance and preserve their products.
Through the years, various government agencies assisted her in promoting and packaging her products, now labeled McNester Food Products. Since 2003, she has not stopped turning out varied mango- and calamansi-based products namely: mango ketchup, mango sauce, mango jam, mango concentrate, dried mangoes, mango pickles (atsara) and calamansi concentrate with honey.
MS Tubongbanua started processing mangoes in her own kitchen. Acting as processor, purchaser and the marketer all-in-one, Tubongbanua at the time relied on casual laborers to help her in processing and packaging her mangoes and products. To date, however, she now employs eight regular laborers who help her in the mango processing business.
Her McNester product line now carries different mango- and calamansi-based products which have also gained markets in international, national and regional fairs and food expos across the country. In agri fairs and expos, her mango catsup and mango concentrate, along with a few other products, have lured investors including food-chain businessmen, hotel operators and supermarket owners.
At this writing, Tubongbanua has closed an agreement with a Korean owner of a restaurant chain based in Seoul; thus, any time soon, the McNester mango products will reach Korea.
For her success as an entrepreneur and achievement as a noted farmer scientist, Tubongbanua does not fail to thank and praise the various government agencies whose technical assistance have helped her succeed.
Tubongbanua cites the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST) for choosing to assist small and medium entrepreneurs like her. She also credits the Department of Trade and Industry for the technical trainings on bookkeeping, record keeping, packaging and promotions and the Department of Agriculture for inviting her to promote her products in various agri-fairs and expositions. The successful farmer scientist also attributes her success to the Bureau of Plant Industry National Mango Research Development Center for assisting her to develop science and technology-based products.
Tubongbanua cites the provincial government of Guimaras, the Farmers’ Information Technology Services Center based in the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and WESVARRDEC for documenting and promoting her products and mango processing technologies in local and national fairs and expos and all forms of media including the Internet.