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CAPITOL TREE PARK, Maasin City, Southern Leyte, June 28 (PIA)  --  It was a feast for the eyes and for the stomach, the stomach especially, as guests and visitors, officials and laymen, partook of cooked cassava with matching latik (coconut milk in sugar syrup) and  --  surprise!  --  roasted pig or lechon.
 
Welcome to the first-ever duma or rootcrops festival held in this forested patch of the capitol grounds Friday, June 27. 
 
Or help yourself, take a bite, literally, as cassava and lechon were offered for free to the delight of everyone, served with chopped banana skin (bani) as organic, disposable plates.
 
And forget spoon and fork  --  bare hands and cut, cleaned coconut midribs as picks made one’s day.  (Brrp.  Excuse me, I just finished eating.)
 
Leading the orderly boodle meal shortly after the brief opening ceremonies were Governor Roger Mercado and invited guests from the Philrootcrops based at Visayas State University, Provincial officials, heads of provincial, national offices, and the curious crowd, even passersby.
 
A beaming Marina Gador, Provincial Agriculturist, was a sure sign the festival, on its opening day, will be a success until it closes.
 
In an interview last week over cable TV program Action Center Kapihan sa PIA, Gador said the province has worked closely with VSU’s Philrootcrops to promote duma and native delicacies as nutritious food substitutes for the basic staple rice.
 
Julieta Roa of Philrootcrops offered the save view, adding that aside from nutrition, rootcrops also have some added health benefits, saying their substances can boost the body’s anti-ageing agents, can increase a man’s virility, and can even be used as ingredients for beauty products. 
 
A symposium to elaborate on these interesting matters was set Saturday afternoon, June 28, at Lourdes Convention Center, Roa, a true-bloodied Maasinhon, informed, inviting everyone to come.
 
On the business side, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial office also initiated a forum to discuss the potentials of rootcrops for processing into various food products, and this is done through the Small and Medium Enterprise Roving Academy (SMERA) scheduled Sunday morning, June 29, at the DPWH Function Hall, said Yoye Sabalo, DTI Staff, and Mike Nunez, DTI Provincial Director.
 
Interested entrepreneurs who may not be able to catch up with these schedules may contact the DTI provincial office.
 
Back at the Capitol Tree Park, now that everyone has eaten, it was time for the eyes to feast on, viewing all the booths that displayed various rootcrops in their bare and processed forms, as well as other food delicacies, and flowers at the Garden Show in the same venue.
 
The booths showed the farmers’ produce by municipalities, city, organizations, and even by private individuals.
 
Philrootcrops displayed their wares, too, like camote cookies and cassava chips, among others, and customers can eat samples (eating, again) of these value-added products on sale.
 
As customers enjoyed their stroll all around, each one bringing sando bags loaded with different items that they bought, it is not an exaggeration to assume that farmers are happy also with the brisk sales.
 
There is cash in duma farming, indeed.  (mmp, PIA8-Southern Leyte)