To work with scientists, attend conferences abroad, and serve as a resource person in training programs are among the opportunities she never expected to achieve prior to joining PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Nueva Ecija. Ms. Josefina F. Ballesteros also known as “Fruity”, is a Science Research Specialist who works on market research in support to rice-based product development. At 24, she now leads a project and two market studies of the Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division. Fruity hails from Hindang, Leyte.
Just last year, Fruity was recognized as one of the finalists in the Outstanding Junior Researcher category during the Dangal ng PhilRice, an emloyees’ recognition event of the Institute, for her exemplary contribution in the field of research for development.
“Being one of the finalists made me feel like everything I’ve done was all worth it. I thank PhilRice for the recognition. It boosted my confidence. It made me think and feel that I should continually do my best in this field,” shares Fruity.
A cookbook, Mushroom Feast: A Collection of Filipino Mushroom Recipes, in which she was among the editors has just won the last year’s Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (National Level) for Mushroom Category. The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards is an annual global competition honoring the best food and wine books, printed or published online or as e-book, and food television shows. Among the editors are Riza G. Abilgos-Ramos, Rosaly V. Manaois, Amelia V. Morales, and staff from the Department of Hospitality Management of Central Luzon State University (CLSU).
During the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Sri Lanka, the paper titled “Maternal Factors Associated with Child Nutrition in Rice-based Farm Households in Central Luzon, Philippines”, in which she was a co-author, won the best paper presentation.
Fruity graduated from the Visayas State University (VSU) in 2013 with a degree in Agribusiness, magna cum laude (with great distinction).
Last year, during the 3rd International Conference on Public Health, Fruity presented a paper in Malaysia titled “Riding on the Health Trend: A Market-to-Lab Rice-Based Product Development”. The paper earned praises from researchers and professionals working in the field of health and nutrition.
Being the lead of the Red Mold Rice as Natural Dietary Supplement project, Fruity traveled with a team of researchers that conducted interview and discussion with researchers in the Universiti Putra Malaysia and University of Nottingham – Malaysia Campus, as well as Chiang Mai University in Thailand to get information on the uses and products that could be developed out of red mold rice. The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture-Biotech Program through DA-BAR.
Before she joined PhilRice, all she wanted was to look for a job in line with research and development. In just 3 years, obviously great things have happened to Fruity. She now thinks of pursuing a master’s degree and later on give back to people in her hometown.
“Now I am more into research but I would also love to be engaged in development in the future. I can see a more fulfilling path because I will have that chance to apply the knowledge I have gained and share it directly to people,” shares Fruity.
Few years from now, Fruity and her friends who have the same vision as hers, plan to establish an organization to help her community achieve better development outcomes.
Dr. Riza Abilgos-Ramos, her mentor, once said to do what is excellent to create impacts for the society. This serves a motivation in everything she does at work and even in her personal life.