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Nipa salad dressing now in supermarket

NIPA-1Likened to the popular Balsamic vinegar, but cheaper and affordable, Nipa palm salad dressing is now a common eye catcher at SM Naga, specifically in J-Emmanuel store.

Developed by the Department of Agriculture-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (DA-BIARC), Nipa syrup-based salad dressing was developed as part of promoting and expanding the underutilized Nipa sap.

The Philippines holds the record in terms of Nipa palm plantations. It is the third in Asia reaching the sealine ecosystem of Camarines Sur.

Nipa palm is a neglected indigenous palm species, mostly used as roofing materials. But looking at the potential and opportunity that can be derived from Nipa palm, its sap was extracted developing product out of it.

“Nipa flower clusters are tapped before it blooms to yield a sweet, edible sap collected to produce the local alcoholic beverage called tuba, which, then stored in “tapayan” for several weeks, converts to vinegar popularly known as “sukang paombong”. When distilled, tuba becomes a more spirited local wine called lambanog,” explained Ms. Luz Marcelino, research manager of DA-BIARC.

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Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), under the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), the project titled “Product Development and Promotion of Nipa By-Products in Bicol Region” aimed to promote the usage of Nipa to provide livelihood opportunities, increase and sustain productivity through additional knowledge, profitability, and income especially for the women in Canaman, Camarines Sur.

The Product Development Section of DA-BIARC headed by Ms. Arlene de Asis developed the technology. Compared to the well-known Balsamic vinegar, the Nipa salad dressing has no after taste and is considered to be generally healthy because it has no additives and preservatives since it is pure Nipa palm syrup.

DA-BIARC has a close partnership with the Rural Improvement Club-Canaman Chapter wherein Mrs. Luz Severo-Despabiladeras serves as one of the members and farmer-cooperators of the project. Mrs. Despabiladeras shares her expertise developing the product and likewise, handles the promotion side of the product. She is the woman behind the successful debut of the products in the supermarkets in 2016.

Now, the group regularly supplies 30 bottles each of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing sold at J-Emmanuel store at SM Naga. The group started supplying 120-150 bottles of 1L, 500mL, and 375mL of Nipa salad dressing at SM Savemore (Bicol Region) in 2016 and processing the renewal of permit in 2017, which the project aimed to accomplish as soon as possible. Nipa salad dressing was also featured during International Food Exhibit (IFEX) 2013, which was held at SMX Convention Center, Metro Manila, Philippines on May 16-19, 2013.

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The project covers the refinement of the technology, purchase of the equipment and improvement of the production area to cope with the high demand of the product and to make it locally- and globally-competitive.

“There are now groups of farmers who regularly supply raw materials. So, in that case, it is not only producing a product out of Nipa but also promoting job generation because it was able to help farmers,” Ms. Marcelino said.

The Nipa salad dressing of DA-BIARC won third place in the Most Innovative Product Award during the 12th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum held in August 2016 at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. It also bagged the third place award during the Farmers and Fisher-Folks’ Congress held on September 22-23, 2016 at the Convention Center, Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)