THE BOARD of Investments (BoI) has approved a P548.7-million project of Irradiation Solutions, Inc. (ISI) for an irradiation facility in Tanay, Rizal, serving the farm produce sector.

The company qualified for incentives as a new operator of essential services under Republic Act No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and the 2020 Investment Priorities Plan as a qualified operator of an activity that will help ease the impact of the pandemic.

The BoI said in a statement Monday that the facility will use electron-beam technology to irradiate produce. It is expected to begin operations by June 2023 and employ up to 43 staff.  

“The target customers and clients of this project will importers, exporters and traders. The project will earn its revenue through irradiation treatment fees (on the basis of) pesos per dry weight depending on (the) required dose on kilogray units,” the BoI said.

ISI’s facility has a capacity of 25,000 metric tons (MT) annually, and is set to augment the country’s electron-beam irradiation capacity. 

“At present, the only electron-beam irradiation facility of the country is owned/operated by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DoST-PNRI) with a maximum annual capacity of only around 440 MT,” the BoI said.  

According to the BoI, irradiation is a processing and preservation method that exposes food and other products to ionizing radiation such as gamma rays, x-rays, or accelerated electrons from electron beam machines.

It added that products undergoing irradiation do not become radioactive due to low energy levels used.

“This technology is responsible for the reduction of microbes or decontamination (among spices, herbs, cosmetic raw materials), quarantine treatment (fruits and vegetables), elimination of pathogens (frozen/chilled meat), sprout inhibition (onions, garlic, potatoes) and sterilization (in medical devices, packaging, bone grafts),” BoI said.  

“One advantage of this technology is that products can be treated in its final package form; hence, the products will no longer be opened in the facility before and after the irradiation treatment,” it added.

BoI Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said the project is compliant with the government’s pandemic response, particularly in creating food resilience by adopting technology to limit postharvest losses and prolonging the shelf life of agricultural products.  

“It will also promote much-needed additional economic activity throughout the agriculture value chain through increased quality of production as well as enabling local products to be of export quality and thus be able to access wider international markets,” Mr. Rodolfo said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave