CITRONELLA OIL.  About 250 farmers and 25 indigenous people are now reaping the benefits of the citronella facility in Bukidnon. The group is expected to earn PHP583,000 annually.  (Photos courtesy of Ritchie Guno)

MANILA – About 250 Higaunon farmers and 25 indigenous people are starting to reap the benefits of the citronella processing facility in Bukidnon, an official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Monday.

The facility was established in November 2022, and began to be fully operational this month, DOST Bukidnon provincial head Ritchie Mae Guno said.

"The farmers' citronella grasses will be sold to AFAI (Agtimaloy Farmers Association Inc.) Some of the farmers will also be hired for citronella production," Guno told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

Guno said members of the group will receive commissions from the income from citronella products.

She said the facility processes citronella grasses to produce citronella oil, which are packed in 30 ml, 50 ml, and 1 liter bottles.

These oils are being sold to Human Nature, a social enterprise brand whose merchandise ranges from beauty to personal care.

The farmers, as a group, may earn up to PHP583,000 per year. These farmers live in Sitio Impahanog, Brgy. San Luis in Malitbog, Buidnon.

Meanwhile, Guno said an estimated PHP100,000 was used to establish the facility.

Beneficiaries can use the facility for free, and the income will be given directly to the association to make the project sustainable and to help the members, Guno said.

The project is in partnership with Malitbog town.

The facility is equipped with a hydro steam distillation machine that uses firewood to extract oil out of citronella grasses.

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said the AFAI will operate and manage the facility starting this year.

The farmers own and manage a 10-hectare citronella plantation.

DOST's intervention also included product development, business and organizational management and market matching opportunities to fully capacitate the indigenous people community. (PNA)