Bicol farmers seek help on wasted pineapples

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — A group of farmers in the Bicol region is seeking support to save a small pineapple variety from rotting in the fields and help local farmers cut back on thousands of pesos' worth of losses.

According to Social enterprise Rural Rising Philippines, almost 700 tons of Formosa pineapples are wasted every harvest season because buyers classify the smaller variety of the fruit as "out" and refuse to buy them.

"Super tamis (It's very sweet), but in spite of that, [it] has no economic value. No one buys them except paisa-isa (one-by-one) by occasional picnickers, certainly not by big buyers," Rural Rising co-founder Ace Estrada wrote on the group's Facebook page.

Estrada said the "Buraots," the small variety of pineapple, are usually left in the field for the mice and bats.

He added that at least 30% to 40% of the pineapple harvest are Buraots.

"In this one farm alone, Rex (the farmer) has 17,000 pineapple plants. Forty percent, if one pineapple averages 1 kilo, that's 7 tons of perfectly edible, enjoyable food that will not be sold," he wrote.

"Rex says there are dozens of farms like his in San Lorenzo Ruiz. Say 24 farms, that's 160 tons of "unsaleable" rotting pineapples. We got to visit a much bigger town called Labo, 52 barangays to San Lorenzo Ruiz's 12. We figure that's at least 700 tons of wasted pineapple," he added.

Estrada said Rural Rising will sell the Formosa pineapples to be harvested in October by farmers in the towns of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Labo, Camarines Norte.

"We're not selling you undersized pineapples (Buraots), we are helping them (farmers) make extra money from these pineapples that they leave to rot on the field," he said.

"We are not lowering your standards, we are elevating your understanding that the small ones are actually the sweeter ones. October pa po ang harvest but we launched this early so that we have a big order for our farmers," Estrada added.

The group is taking pledges early where P599 will get a buyer 10 kilograms of mixed-sized Formosa Pineapples by harvest time.