As an educator, Ms. Tomasa Camu taught science and technology by having her students experience the scientific method.
She has demonstrated in the classroom, for example, that malunggay leaf can be analyzed for its nutritional properties, and can be transformed in powder form–while retaining its natural flavor, color and nutritive value.
An indigenous vegetable, called “kalunggay” in Bicol, it is usually found in backyard gardens.
As part of a research subject, Camu–a public school teacher at Tabaco National High School in Albay–and her students conducted experiments on malunggay. After analyzing the results, they found that the cheap vegetable can address malnutrition and other health concerns.
In 2008, Camu established Moringa Health Products and Pastries, which offered a variety of malunggay products ranging from powder, tea, capsule, polvoron, coffee and cream and nutrient enhancer.
In 2009, Ms. Camu availed assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET UP) for product development.
The DOST-SET UP provided funding assistance for the project called “Scaling Up the Production, Packaging and Marketing of Malunggay Powder and By-Products.”
DOST V also provided equipment such as roasting machine, grinding machine, digital weighing scale and stainless working table, and appropriate packaging and labeling materials and nutrition facts analyses.
Now called a miracle vegetable, Malunggay (scientific name: Moringa oleifira) has countless benefits for both young and old.
Malunggay as food nutrient enhancer resulted in improved student wellness. This positive result came from a study of TNHS students with symptoms of iron deficiency anemia and Vitamin C deficiency.
Ms. Camu said that the first year of business operation was devoted to compliance/registration to DTI, BFAD and BIR. Intensive promotional activities were undertaken to introduce her products and be able to penetrate the market despite the presence of competing health product. She actively participated in Regional Trade Fairs/Exhibits and gained more popularity when featured in ABS-CBN’s Bandila and Umagang Kay Ganda.
More orders were realized, she said, as more people appreciated malunggay’s health benefits. In addition to local outlets and walk-in customers, she aims to increase her market share thru marketing network. For the moment, only buyers with friends and relatives abroad would place order as “pasalubong.”
This year, Ms. Camu’s “Commercial Production of Malungay Moringa Oleifira Powder and By-Products Using Scientific and Technical Advances” is Bicol’s entry to the Search for 2nd Filipinnovation Award for Start-Up Companies.
At the national level, the award will recognize five most promising and innovative companies operating for less than three years to be awarded on October 25, 2011.
“There is still a lot of hard work to do,” according to Ms. Camu.
But Ms Camu is used to hard work, and knows where to get her inspiration in times of difficulty. Afterall, she has promoted love for science, good health and nutrition and livelihood opportunities to improve quality of life of Bicolanos–especially the farmers who now receive a monthly income of P8,000.
Source: Philippine Information Agency