BAYBAY CITY – When the price of copra was at its lowest in 2019, Baybay City Mayor Jose Carlos Cari advised the farmers to plant sweet potato instead – not only due to a shorter gestation period but kamote also commands a higher price and will give them a higher income.

“If you plant kamote on a 100-square meter land, you can harvest 350 kilos and earn PHP 8,750 in one harvest,” he said. The idea caught the interest of small farmers.

Since then, a root crop processing center has been established that buys kamote from the farmers while the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) donated an ice cream maker, which makes potato-based ice cream that is sold at the pasalubong center.

Last Wednesday, January 18, kamote takes another leap with the launching of the “Baybay City Delight’s Sweet Potato Baby Food and Milk Drink,” where the lowly root crop, and carabao milk, are the vital components of the city’s nutrition program.

Under the nutrition program, malnourished children in the city will be fed with Baybay Delights Sweet Potato Baby Food for 90 days while lactating mothers who lacks nutrition will be provided with Baybay Delights Sweet Potato Milk Drink for 92 days.

The launching of Baybay Delights’ Sweet Potato Baby Food and Milk Drink was held in Barangay Caridad, a community hosting the most number of pregnant women in the city.

“Our agricultural programs must be connected to our nutrition program to encourage our farmers to produce more,” Cari said.

Cari said the city government will provide funds to sustain the said program. “We will be expecting results, specifically its impact on the nutritional status of the children and the nutritionally at-risk pregnant women,” he said.

Dr. Julie Diamante Tan, a retired professor of the Visayas State University, says kamote is considered a ‘superfood.’ She said it is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, high in antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage and chronic disease, contain fiber and antioxidants, and are rich in beta carotene and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help improve eye health.

DOST Leyte Provincial Director Ocaña said the program is laudable as it aims to eradicate malnutrition using cheap alternatives such as kamote. Ocaña said DOST will provide the necessary technical assistance in the packaging and to extend the shelf life of the product so that mothers may keep them, even without refrigeration, and so that other local government units (LGUs) may be able to replicate it. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail January 16-22, 2023 issue)