Banana Rejects As Cheap Feed
In the banana producing areas in Mindanao, the growers have a problem with their so-called “rejects” which are either too small or too big for the export market.
One big plantation alone may have 15 tons of rejects every day. There are some businessmen who buy the rejects dirt cheap (P500 per truckload) but they can buy just a small fraction.
One company that is taking advantage of the availability of cheap off-size bananas is Perfect Milling, a feedmill in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, managed by Aerol Conde. Thanks to the off-size bananas, Aerol can produce high quality feeds at a lower price than the competition. He said that his feeds (for swine and poultry) are at least P40 per bag cheaper than the leading brand in the market.
The secret is the use of banana meal as substitute for the expensive yellow corn as source of energy. The banana meal is just about P5 per kilo compared to the P12 per kilo of yellow corn or higher. The banana meal is a good source of energy. The fresh fruits are sliced, dried and then powdered.
Aerol, a mining engineer, used to work for a mining company but this closed down in 1991 so that he had to look for work as a beer salesman. While doing his beer marketing, he started raising a few pigs as additional source of income.
That’s when a veterinarian friend who is expert in feed formulation taught him how to mix his own feeds. The formulation was good, his pigs grew fast and so he offered his feeds to other hog raisers. That’s how he found that feedmilling could be a good money-maker. At that time it cost him only P300 to produce a bag of swine feed which he was able to sell at P450.
Aerol and his sister and two brothers decided in 1997 to make a business in feedmilling. They came up with an initial P 100,000 capital, Acrol not drawing any salary for the first six months. The feedmill has grown into a major business. By next year a new pelletizing plant will start operating that could significantly add to the present production of 15,000 bags per month. The pellitizing operation will have a capacity of five tons per hour.
Aerol relates that when they started their feedmilling business, the Asian financial crisis had just set in and many of the Manila-based major feedmills reduced their operations. One stopped distributing their feeds to some places in Mindanao. That created a vacuum in Mindanao, Including Tagum City and surrounding areas. And so the Qualifeeds of Aerol filled the vacuum. There was a ready market for his feeds.
The three brothers and sister are all involved in the operation of the feedmill. Roby is the president of the company while Arthur is the plant manager. Ester de los Reyes, their sister who is a CPA, is in charge of finance while Aerol is the CEO or chief executive officer.
Meanwhile, the small piggery that Aerol started has also grown like the feedmill. Set up primarily to be a testing ground for company’s feeds, it has become a profitable operation. After all, the feed is much cheaper than those of other companies. The piggery now has 150 sows which can produce 2,700 piglets a year. Usually, one sow produces some 18 piglets a year.
Meanwhile, Aerol is looking at other business that could exploit the availability of cheap banana rejects. The bull manufacture of banana ketchup is one project being seriously considered. The other possible project is the production of bio-organic fertilizer using the Biosec technology of Dr. Rene Sumaong of Novatech Agrifood Industries
By : Zac B. Sarian