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Banking on the organic wave

by October 30, 2016 General

FOR years, Aloha Organic Garden has taken the lead in promoting organic living in Davao City, even Mindanao.

Today, this emerging agribusiness continues to expand its organic product lines from just mere culinary herbs and succulents to cacao, coffee, cheese, honey and rice products, among many others.

“We observed that there is an increasing interest of the Dabawenyos to go organic,” Donnatela Christiana Sajulga, owner of Aloha Organic Garden, said in an interview with SunStar Davao.

Aloha has around three hectares of farm in Mahayag, Bunawan organically farmed by Donnatela’s husband Francis “Koko” Sajulga and his five organic gardeners/farmers.

For the Sajulga family, producing nothing but organic as a business is sustainable.

“You know, the market’s direction towards organic signals a good sign, meaning more people are now into healthy lifestyle,” Sajulga said, noting that most of its customers are in the 30 years old and above bracket.

Some of the newly-added products offered by Aloha are Black Rice, organic honey and herbed Chicharon and nuts.

Aloha Organic Garden products are now available at Asian Fruit Market in Abreeza Ayala – Mall, Seagull Resort in Lorega, Bukidnon along the Bukidnon-Davao (Buda) Road, Dahilayan Forest Park in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, Panagatan, Cagayan de Oro, Crocodile Park Davao and Siargao Island.

Black Rice

The newest in its product line, Aloha’s Black Rice is sourced from Davao farmers in Calinan.

“We started to sell it (Black rice) last Friday and so far we received a lot of orders,” Sajulga said.

She said, they decided to offer this unpolished rice because of its numerous health benefits.

The black rice, Sajulga shared, is healthier than most rice. Not only is it rich in antioxidants, but it also contains dietary fiber, anti-inflammatory properties, and has the ability to help stop the development of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and weight gain.

One serving of black or forbidden rice contains only around 160 calories, but offers a very high amount of “flavanoid phytonutrients,” a good source of fiber, substantial mineral content including iron and copper, and even a good source of plant based protein.

Aloha’s Black rice is sold at P60 per kilo (unpacked) while the fully packaged one (1.5 kilo) is at P100. But, if bought by sack, the rice variety sells at P58 per kilo.

Herbed Chicharon and Nuts

The common chicharon and nuts were given a twist by adding organic herb seasonings.

“Both are cooked in a palm oil, we mixed it with our herb seasoning, put some kosher salt, for spicy flavors we added chili to spice it up,” Sajulga said.

Both are perfect as a beer match. The herbed chicharon is sold at P70 per pack while the nuts (130 grams) cost P60 per pack.

Of all their products, honey is their best-seller.

“Maybe because we make good, very raw, delicious honey,” she said.

The sweet food, she said, is sourced from a bee keeper in Barangay Masara, Maco, Compostela Valley.

The raw honey is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids, making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally.

Sajulga said they can sell some 60 bottles of honeys every two weeks. The honey product comes in a 330 ml (P200) and 500 ml (P260) bottle.

For now, we increased the price of the honey, from P160 per 330 ml bottle to P200 because of the rainy season.

Just recently, Aloha was chosen by the Yale-NUS College, a liberal arts college in Singapore as one of the organic agri-producer participants for the research entitled: Cultural Politics of Organic Agri-food in the Philippines.

The college has been established as a collaboration of Yale University and the National University of Singapore.

The research is set to be completed by middle of next year.

With so much more stored in the organic industry, Sajulga is positive that their kind of business will continue to thrive because of its health benefits and sustainable ways.