Given that the Philippines is not a traditional tea-drinking country, tea consumption continues to increase as health-conscious consumers choose this beverage more for its medicinal benefits.
A study conducted by Euromonitor International in 2007, showed that tea consumption in the Philippines has dramatically increased. The abrupt consumption growth is related to the increasingly busy lifestyle in urban areas of major cities in the country and the emerging health and wellness trend.
Generally, the Philippines is importing tea from different tea countries like China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. The increasing demand for tea has prompted the government to look for alternative materials that are available locally which may be developed into marketable products similar to tea. One of these is the Philippine oregano (Coleus aromaticus Benth), which is more popularly known among Filipinos as a medicinal plant.
As part of the long-term national project to promote agribusiness in the country, a study proposed by the Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center (STIARC), “Wine, Fermented Juice, and Tea product Development from Philippine Oregano”, was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research under its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP) to develop, package, and commercialize health products from this locally available medicinal plant.
Initially, the product was exhibited in agri-trade fairs for market testing. The few tea enthusiasts who had the chance to scruple the products spread the news about oregano tea, generating more interest.
Oregano tea is gaining local acceptance creating its own market niche as shown in the increasing sales and orders. In fact, private groups and individuals have shown interests in this new product by engaging in its production.
With these opportunities, Dr Estela C. Taño of the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional field unit 4A and the main proponent of the project established the Green Rescue Organic Products Enterprise (GROPE) which is composed collectively of non-employed people particularly women of Tiaong Quezon.
The products have undergone different procedures such as physical, chemical, microbiological, and nutritional tests to ensure their quality and purity. GROPE has also improved its product packaging and is trying out different marketing techniques.
With increasing demand and the widening of its market horizon, the supply of locally produced oregano is running short. Currently, there are two groups supplying its raw materials for their income generating projects these are the Magsasakang Tagapangalaga ng Kalikasan ng Munting Paraiso, a farmers’ association in one of the mountain barangays in Tiaong, Quezon and the Southern Luzon State University, Tiaong Campus. The enterprise buys the oregano leaves at PhP10.00 per kilogram.
Meanwhile, product dealers are also benefiting from the enterprise by getting a 20% of their gross product sales as income.
Today, the enterprise has grossed about 0.5 million in the one-year period starting starting from June 2008. the enterprice in now engaged, through the direct guidance of the researchers, in addition to oregano tea, in the production of oregano wine, oregano juices, and oregano vinegar, a new oregano soap has also been developed. Like the other oregano products, the soap, which will be introduced in the market as OREG soap, is also a high quality organic product. The enterprise is under the direct guidance of the researchers.(Edmon B. Agron)