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Exploring the potential of Apayao’s indigenous fruit

Lubeg

Exploring the wild-growing plants has been one of the initiatives of the government now particularly the agriculture department. There have been programs and projects on the protection and cultivation of indigenous plants. Research efforts are being pulled into in order to exploit the potentials these wild, indigenous crops in the country. “Farmers are encouraged to produce fruit crops thereby promoting sustainable agriculture in the uplands,” said Dr. Ronald O. Ocampo of the Apayao State College (ASC).

The province of Apayao houses some of the country’s indigenous crops including: lubeg, bignay, bignay kalabaw, calumpit, saging matsing, other than the fruit-bearing trees like durian, marang, lanzones, rambutan, pineapple, mangosteen, coconut, santol, among others. Given this, Apayao is dubbed as the “Cordillera’s last frontier for nature’s richness”. With the abundance in indigenous and wild growing fruits, the province of Apayao is envisioned as the prime ‘Agroforestry Center in the North’.

According to Dr. Ocampo, growing of fruit crops has various benefits including soil protection against erosion due to its profuse and widely distributed roots. With wider canopies, fruits crops are considered to have longer productive life. “They have wider tolerance to adverse soil and climatic conditions such as drought, typhoon, and strongly low ph,” Dr. Ocampo added.

Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the Apayao State College is currently working on the product improvement and commercialization of indigenous fruits in Apayao. One promising indigenous fruit in Apayao is called “lubeg”.

Lubeg (Syzygium lineatum) belongs to the family Myrtaceae. It is an erect, medium fruit tree usually 4-5 meters in height, with its leaves usually ovoid to elliptical measuring about 8-10 cm. The leaf posses a sour taste. Forty percent of total production is in Apayao and is mostly found in the Cagayan Valley with an estimated 1,000 lubeg trees grown.

Lubeg are cherry-like fruits with thick and fleshy, spongy, leather or brittle rind, oblong (ovoid or ellipsoid), up to 13 mm long. “Fruits are in cluster, whitish in appearance, and gradually turn from red to violet as they ripen. The fruits are considered to be highly perishable,” ASC researchers described.

Different processing technologies for lubeg were developed to include wine, vinegar, jam, jelly, and fruit concentrates. ASC is also processing and packaging bignay and wild banana into wine and vinegar. These fruits are believed to have anti-oxidants and anti-cancer properties.

Lubeg jam serves as fillers for fruit-based baked products like inipit, custard cake, cup cake, and even Jelly as fillers for doughnut.

To further promote and commercialize the products, three trainings on baking, wine-making, and packaging were conducted. Nutrient, total acidity, and alcohol content analysis were conducted. The nutrient analysis was made specific for lubeg jam and jelly; alcohol content for lubeg wine, bignay wine, and wild banana wine; while total acidity were conducted for lubeg vinegar, bignay vinegar, and wild banana vinegar.

The processing and production of indigenous fruits have gained impact not only to farmer-individuals but also to the community as a whole. “The project will alleviate the present socio-economic condition of the farmers, creating additional livelihood opportunities for sectoral groups including farmers, women, Out-of-School Youths (OSY), and elderly,” reported Dr. Ocampo.

The project is also considered a productive enterprise to help alleviate poverty in Apayao. To date, Elsie Sapad, one technology adopter in Luna, Apayao, is processing lubeg wine and vinegar. Likewise, the members of the Pudtol Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative are packaging fruit-based products.

To sustain supply of fruits, the college is producing seedlings under the National Greening Program. “We also link with the local government units, people’s organizations, and other line agencies for collaboration,” Dr. Ocampo explained. The project team also established linkages between buyers, traders, and processors. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)

Cheapest coffee roasting machine now in the market

Coffee Roaster Machine

Coffee is never complete without the rigorous roasting process. Roasting adds significant value to coffee. Newly-harvested coffee beans start green when removed from the fruit of the tree. It is the roasting process that changes them from green beans to the various shades of brown, depending on roast preference.

For coffee farmers roasting is also an important process that when optimally utilized can provide them with better profit. Often, coffee farmers in the Philippines, like those around the world, only sell their beans in raw form (green beans). If they can roast their own coffee, either individually or through the cooperative, they can sell their processed coffee at a better price rather than selling just the raw coffee beans.

There is a need therefore to develop a roasting technology that will enable them to process coffee and demand better price for their product. Inevitably, this will help bring the country to a new height of not only producing high quality coffee but also help boost the country’s coffee industry.

Here comes the Bravura

Given the potential of processed coffee in the market and the need to regain the industry’s vigor, a coffee roasting machine that is both practical and easy to operate is important. Thus, the Cavite State University (CaVSU) through the National Coffee Research, Development and Extension Center (NCRDEC), in collaboration with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under its banner program, the National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP), implemented the project, “Technology Piloting and Commercialization of Microcontroller-based Coffee Roasting Machine”. The project, led by Dr. Ruel M. Mojica of NCRDC-CaVSU, aimed to pilot test and to commercialize the developed technology on roasting machine for profitable coffee processing business.

Results of the project were presented by Dr. Mary Jane D. Tepora, project staff, as one of the seminar topics during the BAR Seminar Series.

Named as the “Bravura Roasting Machine,” it is the first-ever vertical coffee roaster. This coffee roasting machine has microcontroller device that completely controls its operation.

Dr. Tepora explained that the group of Dr. Mojica has established and modified the parameters for attaining the standard roast to arrive at a more efficient design using vertical design with auger to improve the roasting quality.

Part of the output of the project is the fabrication of two prototype roating machines and one final prototype specifically for commercialization.

Dr. Tepora reported that the machine was introduced to the public through a product launch during the “Kapihan: 1st Coffee Day Celebration” in June 2012 at the CaVSU.

Given the initial success of its launch and the growing interest among local coffee growers, CaVSU has collaborated with the local government for them to introduce Bravura Coffee Roasting Machine in the municipality of Indang and other nearby towns of Cavite.

The machine can produce 10 kg of roasted coffee per batch of roasting and takes 20 minutes on the average to achieve the required roasting process. “Bravura is made of stainless steel materials with a well-designed auger that produces even bean roasting. It has single phase motor coupled with microcontroller device for automatic operation,” added Dr. Tepora.

The machine can roast not only coffee but also peanut and cacao.

The Bravura is the cheapest roasting machine available in the market today. This locally-made roasting machine costs PhP485,000 per unit or around US$11,100. This is a lot cheaper than VR-10 (10 kg) of the Unite States (US$35,958) or GHIBLI R-15 (5-15 kg) of Europe (US$ 24,735).

The development and utilization of microcontroller-based coffee roasting machine could provide income generating livelihood opportunities to smallscale farmers, coffee processors as well as the community members.

Indeed, this technology breakthrough will revive the Philippine Coffee Industry and bring the country closer to its previous glory as one of the lead producers of quality coffee beans. ### (Rita T. dela Cruz)

Corn, cassava R&D projects reviewed

Corn and cassava are considered important crops in Philippine agriculture. Corn is the country’s second most important staple and is used as feed ingredients for the livestock and poultry industry. Cassava on the other hand, is regarded as one of the cheapest sources among the major starch-based feedstock for ethanol production.

To maintain the growth momentum of corn and enhance cassava production, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Corn and Cassava R&D Committee convened to update the corn and cassava R&D agenda to increase production and empower farmers.

BAR Assistant Director Teodoro Solsoloy in his welcome remarks stressed key issues like low productivity, high production cost, postharvest facilities, and even the ill effects of extreme weather disturbances which according to him, have direct consequence on the production of traditional and high-value crops like corn and cassava. “These factors,” he mentioned, “should not be neglected and thus, doable solutions and interventions through R&D must be given direct attention by the government.”

Mr. Milo delos Reyes, head secretariat of the National Corn Program, underscored the critical role of BAR in the undertaking and encouraged all key players to establish a mechanism that would increase farmers’ production and productivity. Delos Reyes also emphasized the need for the government to lead and be proactive in combating the ill effects of climate change. He recommended that all corn and cassava R&D related project proposals must be coordinated with BAR for better coordination. The head secretariat also presented updates on the Corn Industry Roadmap.

Meanwhile, Dr. Artemio Salazar, research professor at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) presented “Promotional Activities for White Quality Protein Maize (QPM)” wherein he zeroed-in on the malnutrition incidence in the Philippines and indicated that approximately four million (31.8 percent) of the preschool population were found to be underweight-for-age and about 2.7 million (24.5 percent) school children are suffering from malnutrition. To address this, a research study, funded by BAR, was conceptualized to show that corn combined with rice (rice composite) can improve weight gains in children faster. The study alsoshowed that rice composites can be a means to alleviate malnutrition. Dr. Salazar concluded that R&D support on white corn and its program must be put in placed to ensure the competitive quality of corn and income to the farmers.

Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. De Luna, coordinator of the National Corn Program, articulated on the involvement of the private sector in yellow corn production which must be enhanced. He said that “postharvest facilities and the technology driven efforts of the government must be given priority if we all want to sustain the growth of the industry.” “We should come up with corn and cassava benchmark studies to reconcile production and technology gaps,” he added.

The updates on cassava production and its effect to the industry and economy were presented by Dr. Candido Damo, coordinator of the DA Cassava Program. He highlighted the various uses of cassava for food, feeds, fuel, and other industrial uses. The targets of the program in 2017 are to: increase production by 7.6 million metric tons, increase average yield to 20.0 mt/ha, and increase yearly income of farmers by 10 percent per hectare, among others. To achieve these targets, Dr. Damo proposed four strategies: 1) increase area to be planted, 2) increase yield and income, 3) improve quality of cassava and reduce harvesting and postharvest losses, and 4) increase consumption of cassava as food.

A paper titled, “Considering Farmers’ Preferences in Breeding and Dissemination of White Corn Varieties as Staple Food in Addressing the Food Self-sufficiency of DA” was presented by Dr. Romeo Labios of UPLB. The study aimed to increase productivity, yield and income of the farmers in the project area under consideration utilizing the participatory varietal selection (PVS) approach and technology innovation systems. The paper won first prize under the Applied Research Category in the recently concluded BAR’s National Research Symposium.

Mr. Joell H. Lales, head of the Planning and Programs Development Division (PPDD) of BAR reports on the Corn and Cassava R&D Agenda and Program updating the committee on BAR’s interventions. He also enumerated on-going corn and cassava projects as well as project proposals for funding.

To date, 42 on-going corn and cassava projects have already been funded by BAR and six are still in the pipeline for funding. These projects were identified and have been prioritized by the Corn and Cassava R&D Committees through various consultations. #### (Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca, DA-BAR)

Japanese agency adopts BAR’s Edible Landscaping program

Japanese Edible Landscaping Design

A Japanese humanitarian agency has adopted Bureau of Agricultural Research’s (BAR) edible landscaping (EL) program that encourages home-based organic vegetable planting to help reduce imports, enhance the environment, and raise food security.

The EL, a partnership between BAR and University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), has generated adopters including the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual, and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) of Japan.

Its aesthetic value and food security aims are hoped to have a significant impact locally.

“Edible landscaping may not be totally for commercial profitability. But it will raise consumption of vegetables and enhance food security. And we have an organic growing system that’s good for health and environment,” according to UPLB EL Project Leader Farnando C. Sanchez Jr.

BAR had budgeted P1 million for the first phase of the technology promotion of EL which initially had its site at the UPLB CA-Agripark.

“Instead of planting just ornamental plants, we want to encourage more households to plant vegetables in their front and back yards so we may provide for our homes’ basic needs, and we may be able to reduce our imports of vegetables,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

A United Nations data quoted by the Factfish indicated that as of 2012 the Philippines had vegetable imports of $3.013 million (P142 million).

This project can have extensive livelihood opportunity wherever people want to keep healthy and eat fresh, organic vegetables.

“It offers an opportunity for about 34.2 percent of the total household population or 5.2 million families of the country that live below the poverty threshold especially for families in the cities that cannot afford the high cost of basic needs as food,” according to a BAR-UPLB report.

Value addition

OISCA, a Tokyo-based organization established by Rev. Yonosuke Nakano, has already been engaged in vegetable planting even before it took up EL.

Its EL farm is in Tiaong, Quezon.

OISCA had a value addition in its vegetable farming from BAR-UPLB’s EL as the beautification function of its farm enhances attraction of young farmers into agriculture.

EL also enhances the environment as the greeneries avert emission of more carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming and climate change.

When it was founded in the Philippines in 1961, OISCA’s aim was to bring Japanese agriculturists to the Philippines to train Filipinos on agriculture.

OISCA as of 1983 had sent 336 Japanese agricultural experts to the Philippines and 245 Filipinos to Japan.

The EL’s two phases were implemented from November 2009 to September 2012.

Economic value

Aside from potentially helping reduce the country’s vegetable imports, the EL has economic value for agritourism. Agritourism sites can charge visitors an entrance fee.

One agritourism model is that of the Benguet State University (BSU) which generates around P2 million yearly from its tourist site in its campus in Benguet. It is planted with organic strawberry and Arabica coffee. BSU charges P50 per entrant.

Aside from OISCA, the EL of BAR-UPLB has been demonstrated in the gardens of several institutions. These include a Rotary Club of Los Banos-assisted public school, UP Rural High School, and even at BAR’s own office site on Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.

Since EL was introduced by UPLB in 1999, EL was also adopted by a Laguna provincial program called “Food Always in the Home” which popularized vegetable gardening.

“Sooner some private companies adopted the same concept for their model nurseries. A real estate developer incorporate dthe concept for its farm lot subdivision in Tarlac, “ according to the BAR-UPLB’s “Technology Promotion and Commercialization of Edible Landscaping” (TP-CEL).

In Antipolo, in an aim to orient children who are now mostly ignorant on agriculture, a resort has also used edible landscaping as a better alternative to planting ornamental plants.

The concept of EL was presented at the Flora Filipina Conference in Manila in January 2009.

Malnutrition

BAR has been supporting projects that boost consumption of vegetables in the country which is known to be among the lowest in Asia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicated the Philipines’ vegetable consumption of 60 kilos per person per year in 2007 was one of Asia’s lowest, reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

This results in chronic malnutrition especially in children with shortage in people’s intake of vitamins and minerals. The National Nutrition Survey (NNS) of 2008 reported 33 percent of Filipino children less than 10 years old were too short for their age classification. Stunting also affects 29 percent of five-year-olds.

NNS reported the Philippines’ average daily consumption per person of 110 grams of vegetables as of 2008 was lower than the 145 grams consumption in 1978.

Furthermore, consumption of fruits was also lower as of 2008 at 54 grams per person per day compared to 104 grams in 1978.

BAR and the Department of Agriculture previously had campaigns on raising Philippines’ vegetable consumption.

One of these was the “Oh My Gulay” which was implemented with the East and Southeast Asia of the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC) based in Taiwan.

This program aimed to support health programs on reduction of incidence of vitamins and minerals that are linked to contraction of heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, and other degenerative disease.

The country’s vegetable consumption is even far lower than WHO’s recommendation of 400 grams of vegetables and fruits per person per day or 150 kilos per year.

High-priced

One of the reasons for low vegetable consumption may be the high price of vegetables.

Most vegetables are produced in farflung upland areas like Baguio and Nueva Vizcaya so that most urban residents do not have access to affordable vegetable.

“Vegetables and fruits can be more expensive than fish in the Philippines, and their prices fluctuate a lot,” according to Sheila Aclo de Lima of the AVRDC. “With these (space-friendly) methods (like container farming), underprivileged families can produce for themselves, and their vegetable and fruit consumption is resilient to weather and food crises.”

Design

The EL project is not only about how to grow organic vegetables but on planning, design, and implementation of a landscape architecture program.

“Edible plants can provide the texture, color, and mass that we like to see in our garden as some of them are fine, dainty and lay, bright and attractive, tall growing or in prostate forms,” according to the TP-CEL report.

EL farms may have different shapes for the plots rather than just rectangular. These may be shaped as a circle, moon-shaped, square, or heart-shaped.

“A trellis does not need to be flat on top. Rather it can be in arch form or tunnel form to inject some novelty and excitement.”

An EL farm does not have to be very big. At the UPLB CA AGripark, the technology demonstration area was 2,900 square meters. At BAR’s building, the area only covered 10 by four meters or a total of 40 square meters.

A staff member has to be hired to maintain the gardens at the CA AGripark. They have been trained to implement in the EL farms calendared planting, soil amendment, composting, companion cropping or best crop combinations, seedling production, chemical-free or organic vegetable production, and horticultural practices.

Pinakbet

The CA Agripark had a Pinakbet Garden planted with the vegetables Ilocanos love like eggplant, ampalaya, camote. It had a Sinigang Garden planted with radish, okra, eggplant, tomato, gabi, and kangkong. It had a Kamote Kaleidoscope with different kamote varieties of different colors and interesting shapes, and Salad Republic (lettuce, tomato, chives, celery, chicharo and onion).

A Fruit Tree Miracle garden had miracle fruits like kalamansi, guava, chico, kalamias, and papaya.

The Herbs Garden had basil, tarragon, mint, viola, oregano, gainura, and gotokola.

Urban gardening or container gardening is encouraged in EL so that city dwellers may take advantage of the technology.

Any commercially available recyclable plastic container, clay pots, coconut shells, and other commonly available materials were used as pots to demonstrate to many that one does not have to have rich resources to put up this garden.

Those planted in these containers are lemon grass, gainura, lettuce, mustard, and pechay.

To enhance beautification, the perimeter fence at CA AGripark was planted with different vines like ampalaya, upo, patola, cucumber, and singkamas.

Factors

Factors to consider in the choice of plants are nutrition, preference, color, texture, scent and attractive physical characteristics.

While one expects to see mostly plants in EL particularly vegetables (called softscapes), hardscapes are needed to beautify an EL farm. These are trellises, signage, pots and containers, waterfalls, and lights.

The TP-CEL had listed several indigenous fruit trees in the country that have potential use for EL.

These are abiu, alingaro, ambarella, araza, ardisia, bago or melinjo, batuan, bitungol, black palm, Brazil cherry, chico-mamey, eleagnus, galo, guava, mulberry, Indian, Philippine chestnut, pitomba, and raspberry bush, among others.

Versatile

While one initially thinks EL may have limited applications, as he investigates he is surprised that it has vast applications. It includes that for home, commercial, and humanitarian purposes. It can be in homes, parks, schools, business and government offices, and industrial sites.

Instead of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers are recommended in EL sites.

To repel some types of insects, marigold, onion, and garlic are planted around the garden such a on walkways or around perimeter walls.

Some insects are also repelled with the use of chili and soap sprayed on plants. Bagging of fruits using paper, plastic, and other innovative materials is encouraged to prevent infestation.

Pruning or thinning out of flowers, fruits, and leaves not only enhances plant shape but also its fruiting productivity.

Ratooning, retaining the plant from new emerging roots, is also practiced as it saves replanting and fast growth compared to growing plants from new seeds. Kangkong is one of those that are being rationed.

Commercial farms aim to harvest massive plants at the same time in order to achieve economies of scale.

However, EL is ideal for staggered harvesting which is ideal for small consumption in families. ### (BAR Press Release)

Misamis farmers maximize profits and land use through CPAR projects

CPAR misamis

The Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) banner of program the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) continues nationwide in its campaign towards encouraging community involvement in profitable and sustainable agriculture and fishery ventures, brought about by research and development (R&D) initiatives of the agency in collaboration with both the private and public sector.

CPAR is a location-specific research cum extension projects that focuses in improving farming system technologies for specific micro agri-climatic environment within a province or municipality. Specifically, it aims to: 1) enhance the role of R&D through technology transfer to improve management systems; 2) develop strategies for effective integration of support services; and 3) institutionalize active community participation in overall farm and coastal resources management for enterprise and agribusiness development.

In a recent monitoring visit headed by representatives of the Project Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) of BAR to Northern Mindanao, current coconut- and corn-based CPAR projects were monitored and evaluated through field visits and interviews. Farmer cooperators and regional field unit representatives gathered to discuss current achievements and issues encountered by participating farmer cooperatives, namely the Bubuntugan Farmers’ Association and the Jampason Farmers’ Association in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.

In the municipality of Jasaan, the two barangays represent the most involved farmers in the project. In Brgy. Bubuntugan, 15 members and in Brgy. Jampason, 9 members were cooperators in the implementation of the coconut- and/or corn-based CPAR project. Both presidents of the Bubuntugan and Jampason Farmers’ Association were present during the meeting to assist in the documentation and clarification of concerns and issues in the project.

According to the farmers, the CPAR project allowed them additional income and they are now able to harvest other commodities while waiting for the coconut trees to produce. A farmer’s wife mentioned that because they are putting fertilizer on the ground for their other crops, the benefit also spills over to the coconut trees, which increases their yield come harvest time. They also mentioned that although there are only a handful of CPAR project participants, because their fields show positive yield, their neighbors become interested in the CPAR planting system.

Upon witnessing the benefits of the CPAR projects, neighbors are encouraged to copy and even join as an adaptor of the farming system. Apart from this, the participants mention how they are able to gain new and important knowledge on increasing their profits through the application of this new technology brought by BAR’s CPAR. On their own, the wives of the farmers have now proceeded to value-adding activities using their commodities planted in between the coconut trees. They now try to make banana chips, wine making, coco sugar, and lumpia, among others.

It is a popular belief that coconut farmers are among the poorest of all farmers. However, because of projects like CPAR, coconut farmers are now able to earn beyond their coconut profits and maximize land use. They acquire techniques and technologies that allowed them the capacity to grow more that the coconut they are used to. CPAR projects such as this one brings more than food on the table, but also hope that things can and will get better in the future. ### (Zuellen B. Reynoso)