Kapis chips: A nutritious finger food from the sea

Kapis chips: A nutritious finger food from the sea

by Rena S. Hermoso

Known for its ivory translucent shell, kapis or window-pane shell (Placuna placenta) is mainly processed into lanterns, candle holders, window panes, lamp shades, flower vases, chandeliers, among other decorative items. Indigenous to various parts of our country, kapis is a very promising fishery commodity given the local and global demand for it either as a raw material or as a processed product. However, unbeknownst to many, kapis is also an edible marine bivalve mollusk like tahong, talaba, kuhol, and tulya.

Samal, Bataan is one of the municipalities in the country that has a rich resource of kapis. Thus, most locals usually engage in kapis craft making. The knowledge of processing kapis shells into exquisite decorative and gift items has been passed down from one generation to another.

Aside from this, they also utilize the kapis meat by cooking it into delectable Filipino dishes such as adobo, afritada, shanghai and by processing it into finger foods such as chips and kropek.

The idea of kapis chips came from one of the members of the KALIWANAG Rural Improvement Club (RIC), a cooperative in Samal that engages in the development of kapis-based products. According to Dr. Lilian C. Garcia, regional director of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 3, by processing the kapis meat into chips, an opportunity for additional source of income has opened and at the same time maximum utilization of kapis was made possible.

Smaller than the commercially available chips such as tahong chips, the kapis chips is very rich in protein making it a healthier option for finger food. If properly stored, it can last up to six months. Currently, the available flavors of kapis chips are original and sweet and spicy. Kapis chips are available in 75g, 150g, and 250g pouches and sold at Php 100, Php 200 and Php 300, respectively. It can be bought at the municipal and provincial tourism offices in Bataan and at the pasalubong center in Samal, Bataan, as well.

Six years after its inception, the kapis chips with its palatable taste have continued to spark and attract the attention of the buyers according to Ms. Gladys T. Resubal, aquaculturist from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Balanga City, Bataan. Aside from the income generated through making wonderful decorative and gift items from kapis, they are also now earning an additional estimated annual income of Php 200,000 from the profits of selling kapis chips.

To ensure that they would have sufficient stock of kapis and to avoid its exploitation, Ms. Resubal said that per sanctuary they “stock more than a ton of kapis breeders, iyon ang nanganganak to increase production.” She also added, “We regulate harvesting of small kapis and breeders. Bawal kunin iyong less than two inches na kapis and iyong breeders.”

KALIWANAG RIC is one of the cooperatives in Samal that was supported through the project, “Technology Promotion and Utilization of Window Pane Oyster (Placuna placenta) Products,” funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research and implemented by BFAR Region 3, provincial government of Bataan, and local government unit of Balanga.

Dr. Lilian C. Garcia, project leader, and Ms. Resubal, co-project leader, realized the potential of the kapis industry in Bataan. They saw that the “maximum utilization of fishery products through application of appropriate technologies increases productivity and income, and generates jobs.” With this, the project was aimed to: improve the existing kapis based products and develop new ones; develop the packaging of the products; capacitate cooperators/beneficiaries in the production of kapis products; improve production facilities; and assist in the promotion and marketing of the kapis products. ###

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For more information:
Ms. Gladys Resubal

Aquaculturist

Office of the Provincial Agriculturist

Balanga City, Bataan

Mobile: 0918 298 9814

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Sweet success from Queen Pineapple vinegar

2018-10-23 Sweet success from Queen Pineapple vinegarEight hours southeast of Metro Manila is the Province of Camarines Norte with Daet as its capital. Tourists usually visit the province in search for the white-sand paradise that is the Calaguas Group of Islands but Camarines Norte holds another thing of beauty beneath the shade of its palm trees: the Queen Pineapple.

“Ang Queen Pineapple ay matamis kesa sa ibang variety. Tsaka kapag kinakain siya, ito ay crunchy,” described Mr. Reynaldo Retosis of San Lorenzo Ruiz. He has been directly buying Queen Pineapple by bulk from local farmers for the past three years.

If one were to visit Daet, it wouldn’t take much of an effort to discover countless pineapple-based products lining the shelves of its pasalubong centers. Among these are Queen Pineapple wine and vinegar.

The Women and Families of San Lorenzo Ruiz Association is a 30-member organization based in Camarines Norte that is into the processing of wine and vinegar from Queen Pineapple. According to Imelda Pimentel, the association’s treasurer, the idea of processing Queen Pineapple into vinegar and wine only came naturally as the raw material that was readily available in their area. Through the assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the women’s group underwent product development training and was also given an industrial juicer that can convert pineapple chunks into juice that would then be fermented into wine or vinegar. They also sell pineapple juice but for now it is only by order, since their juice does not contain any preservatives.

According to the women of the association who also serve as homemakers in their respective households, the vinegar they make from Queen Pineapple is best used when cooking chicken adobo as it adds more flavor and aroma to the dish. Ms. Virgina Rancho, chair of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Association, said that the vinegar has been a favorite of their local customers as it has helped maintain their blood pressure from getting too high.

Camarines Norte’s pineapple industry wasn’t as vibrant as it is today. When Mr. Innocencio Obredo began his work at DA in 1987 as a researcher, pineapples were only sold within the Bicol Region. “…marami sa mga nagtatanim ang gumagamit ng mga traditional na pamamaraan. Ilan dito ay ang paggamit ng di parehong laki ng pagtatanim, kakulangan ng inilalagay na pataba, di maayos na pagpapabunga,at kakulangan ng kaalaman sa postharvest handling,” he added.

Seeing the potential of Queen Pineapple to become the Province’s champion commodity, Mr. Obredo and his colleagues set out to do pioneering research that identified the good agricultural practices that would improve the taste and yield of Queen Pineapple.

Today, Mr. Obredo is the chairman of the Bicol Pineapple Board for the Province of Camarines Norte. He has been involved with the 37 research initiatives on pineapple production.

“Marami na ang mga technologies na na-develop from Queen Pineapple, isa na dito kung papaano ma-attain yung pinaka-ideal size for importation; ikalawa, yung sweetness nito ay improved; ikatlo, kung papaano naming itatanim in an ideal distance of planting ang Queen Pineapple sa isang buong ektarya.” said Ms. Luz Marcelino, research division chief of the Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC), DA-Regional Field Office (RFO) 5.

Mr. Obredo also did research on the use of fertilizers which can induce off-season fruiting so that local farmers won’t be confined in just one batch of harvested pineapple per season. His studies on the good agricultural practices on Queen Pineapple production are now packaged into technology guides published in local vernacular. The technology is also shared through farmer’s field schools and hands-on trainings conducted by other government agencies like the Agricultural Training Institute and the Department of Agrarian Reform.

Today, most pineapple growers have managed to increase their yield to 20-30 percent by adopting technologies introduced by the DA.

Queen Pineapple is continuously brought to Manila and cooperatives, like Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative, have products showcased in supermarkets all over the Bicol region.

According to Ms. Marcelino, community based organizations that process pineapple products help maximize the harvest of pineapple growers. “Dahil sa surplus of production, kalimitan may hindi pumapasa sa quality control. Kaya namin isinagawa ang project na ‘Utilization and Processing of by-products out of Pineapple.’ Ito ay isang BAR-funded project na isinagawa noong 2008 at maganda naman ang kinlabasan kasi may mga takers kaagad sa aming mga teknolohiya,” added Marcelino.

A lot of the pineapple products in Camarines Norte are processed into batterball pineapples, these are ripened pineapples that have failed to grow in size due to poor cultural management. It tastes the same as regular sized queen pineapples, but way smaller, usually about the size of a man’s fist. Batterball pineapples do not make it to Manila and are sometimes thrown away because no one would buy them. Through the community-based processing centers, batterball pineapples are utilized as main ingredients for products such as pastries, juices, wine, and vinegar.

Still, one of the challenges faced by Ms. Rancho and Ms. Pimentel of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Association is their supply of pineapple. Having been invited to a number of trade fairs where the demand for their products is high, Pimentel expressed their need for an area where they can grow their own supply of Queen Pineapple, and the support needed to put up a production facility in order for their products to secure Bureau of Food and Drugs accreditation. Right now, their association relies on its women members to buy the excess harvest from their farmer husbands who manage pineapple plantations.

Another challenge faced by pineapple growers in Camarines Norte was observed by both Ms. Marcelino and Mr. Hetosis. They pointed out the need for farmers to adhere to a cropping calendar that would ensure a steady supply of Queen Pineapple throughout the year.

“Minsan ang nangyayari po ay dahil walang control yung pag-aani halos nagsasabay sabay yung supply ng pineapple at doon po bumababa yung presyo ng pinya,” revealed Mr. Retosis.

This year, Camarines Norte Lowland Rainfed Research Station (CNLRRS), BIARC’s research station in Daet, Camarines Norte, is working on a compendium project under the leadership of Ms. Maria Christina Campita, senior science research specialist at CNLRRS, that would consolidate the extensive body of knowledge on pineapple generated by research and development (R&D) activities in the region. This compendium project serves as a user manual for Good Practices (GP) stakeholders highlighting the technology generated, existing practices, success stories, and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the industry.

Through the continuous R&D efforts of DA-RFO 5 and the growing enterprises established in Camarines Norte, Queen Pineapple has grown to be a sweet staple of Bicolandia.

Seeing the success of the research projects focusing on Queen Pineapple, BIARC, CNLRRS, Aklan State University, and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) have moved on to adopting similar research strategies in improving the yield of other pineapple varieties such as Red Spanish Pineapple. This was after Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s marching orders for BAR to conduct research initiatives aimed at improving the taste of the Red Spanish Pineapple variety which is usually only used for fiber production. ###Ephraim John J. Gestupa

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For more information:
Maria Christina F. Campita
Senior Science Research Specialist
Department of Agriculture
Camarines Norte Lowland Rainfed Research Station
Calasgasan, Daet, Camarines Norte
Mobile: +63 09395668973
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fighting disease the natural way with yeast

Fighting disease the natural way with yeastIn his 2010 TedTalk in Tela-viv, Israel, entomologist Shimon Steinberg reiterated the battle cry of his life’s work as a scientist studying biological pest control: “give nature a chance.”

The environment where we practice agriculture has been greatly compromised by the use of chemical inputs such as pesticide and such practice has also lead to what growers dread to be as developed resistance of the pests to chemical control.

Steinberg pointed out the need to reverse these unhelpful agricultural practices by investing on biological control as the means to restore balance to the agricultural plot.

In the Philippines, the National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology- University of the Philippines Los Baños (BIOTECH-UPLB) has been a key player in rearing and supporting local farmers towards practicing biological pest control, more popularly known among their farmer partners as a form of organic agriculture.

Dr. Mannix Pedro is among the scientists who are conducting research on non-chemical solutions to ensure the quality of harvested, high-value vegetables and fruit crops.

Nakita namin yung pag-gamit ng mga chemicals na halos lahat ng high-value crops ay very high ang spray. Minabuti namin na humanap ng natural na paraan para sa ganun man ay hindi maperwisyo ang ating kalusugan sa pag-consume ng fruits and vegetables.”

Dr. Pedro and his colleagues believe that nature has a way of healing itself and so they looked into how they can make use of yeast to lessen the damage caused by microorganisms in harvested fruits and vegetables like mango, banana, bell pepper and eggplant.

While most people know of yeast as a baking ingredient added to dough for it to expand, yeast, in essence, is single-celled fungi which aside from what is used in baking, have other strains that can serve as antagonists that fight disease causing microorganisms in agricultural crops.

After reviewing research done in other countries on the use of yeast as biocontrol, Dr. Pedro and his colleagues set out to test the method among the most commonly exported crops from the Philippines. This was made possible through a project titled, “Yeast as Biocontrol Agent for Postharvest Diseases for High Value Vegetables and Fruit Crops” that was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research.

Dr. Pedro would sample out the yeast species residing in mango as well as disease causing microorganisms present in the high-value crop sample. Through in vitro lab analysis, his team would then be able to see which strains of yeast have antagonistic properties against pests, bacteria, or harmful fungi.

After isolating and reproducing the yeast strains that exhibit potential biocontrol properties, BIOTECH would then test out the biocontrol yeast in the form of a powder-like substance mixed with water, sprayed onto the fruits and vegetables.

As of today, BIOTECH-UPLB is focused on testing the yeast product on mango. According to Dr. Pedro, their focus on mango production presents greater urgency because of the farmers’ heavy dependence on chemical. “Matindi ang schedule ng pag-spray ng insecticide and fungicide sa mangga, usually every seven to ten days, seven to eight times bago ito pipitasin,” said Romualdo Yecyec, one of the research staff working with Dr. Pedro.

At present, mango growers across the country depend on this practice to ensure optimal export quality of the mango produce. Dr. Pedro pointed out that one major cause of market loss is the indication of too much chemical residue in mango deeming the produce to fail exporting standards.

From the potential biocontrol yeast isolates that Dr. Pedro has tested in the lab, BIOTECH-UPLB has now been conducting field tests of the finished products in mango plantations within Batangas. He hoped that through further studying the best pest control options nature has to offer, BIOTECH-UPLB can eliminate or reduce the farmer’s dependence on chemical pesticide.

Dr. Pedro is open to collaborating with local farmers who have access to mango plantations and who are willing to offer their area in testing out the biocontrol products developed from the project. ###

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Mannix S. Pedro

National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology

University of the Philippines Los Baños

College, Laguna

Phone: (049)  536-1576/2721

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Coco water: Nature’s refreshing drink in a bottle

coco water in a bottleFor a tropical country, such as the Philippines, coconut is a common sight. During summer, coconut water is one cool drink that not only naturally hydrates but also comes with great benefits for the body. But due to its much desired light sweetness, it is often the coconut water tapped from young green coconuts that is being consumed and not from the mature ones.

But did you know that coconut water from mature coconut is more healthful?

According to Dr. Ofero Capariño, chief of the Bioprocessing Engineering from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), although young coconut water is relatively sweeter (5.5-6.5 oBrix), in terms of health benefits, there’s more to get from mature coconut water including electrolytes that human body needs such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Mature coco water has more of them compared to coco water from young coconut,” Dr. Capariño revealed.

FAOSTAT (2016) reported that the Philippines ranks second among the coconut producing countries in the world with a total production of 13.83 billion nuts. During processing of copra and virgin coconut oil (VCO), coconut water is left unutilized.

Dr. Capariño mentioned the potential volume of coconut water from mature coconut that can be recovered is estimated at 2.4 billion liters per year. This became a motivation for him and his research team to look into the potential of mature coconut water. Their research attempted to process the unutilized coconut water into 100 percent pure without any additives and preservatives, nutritious, and safe bottled coconut water with the ultimate goal to help empower the small coconut farmers and increase their income.

From 2013 to 2015, through a project, “Development and Performance Evaluation of a Village Level Coconut Water Processing System,” the group was able to develop a village level coconut water processing system that is capable of processing 2,000 nuts, approximately 2,000 bottles (350 mL) coconut water per day. The generated technology was granted patent (Utility Model) on November 11, 2015.

bottling the coco waterOne of the challenges that the research team had to address was the shelf life of coconut water because according to Dr. Capariño, when exposed to air, coconut water can accelerate quality degradation in terms of rancidity, cloudiness and discoloration caused by enzymes present in it.

“Coco water freshly extracted from mature coconut can last for 24 hours in ambient condition (room temperature). Three to four hours after you open the nut, it will start to ferment. After six hours, the sweetness will start to degrade making it sour. But when chilled, it can last up to three days. But what we want is to prolong it more by undergoing pasteurization below boiling point of water for 1 minute. By doing so, the pasteurized coco water can last 21 days stored under chilled condition,” Dr. Capariño explained.

According to Dr. Capariño, if the mature coco water undergoes pasteurization, it destroys disease causing microorganisms (pathogens) and inactivates spoilage enzymes that may be present in coconut water thereby extending the shelf life of the product. We can sterilize the coconut water by exposing it to very high temperature ranging from 132-149oC and kill all the pathogenic bacteria and even highly resistant spores such as Clostridium botulinum, but then the sensorial properties and nutritional quality of the product will be significantly affected,” he further explained.

With its promised potential in adding value to unutilized coconut water and increasing the income of farmers, the study won a Gold Award (Applied Research–TA/TV–Agriculture Category) during the 2016 National Research Symposium, organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

Being a technology generator, Dr. Capariño ensured that what he developed will be used by the intended users. From 2015 to 2016, a village level coconut water processing technology incubation facility at the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office 5 was established with the support of the DA-Philippine Rural Development Project ─ a World Bank-funded project. The idea is to showcase the developed technology to potential investors and function as a technology incubator for coconut farmers.

In 2016, the group of Dr. Capariño, together with the project leader, Dr. Gigi Calica, senior science research specialist from PhilMech, implemented the project, “Pilot Testing of Coconut Water Processing Enterprise in Selected Areas of the Philippines,” funded by BAR through its National Technology Commercialization Program.

technology developer and adopter“There is an international demand for coconut water as more people are getting health conscious. Drinking coconut water benefits our health by strengthening our body, reducing fatigue and taking care of our normal heart function,” explained Dr. Calica.

She further said that, the objective of the project is to pilot test the PhilMech developed village level coconut water processing system integrated to a VCO processing level of operations. PhilMech has developed a village level coconut water processing system that is capable of producing 100 percent natural bottled coconut water beverage without any additives or preservatives. “Specifically, what we wanted to determine was the potential market of coco water product derived from village level processing system enterprise”.

“Out of the by-product of coconut, which is coco water, being thrown away when processing copra or VCO, we found its use. To prolong its shelf-life, it can be concentrated, sterilized, but our focus is to have a technology that is feasible, doable in any community area,” said Dr. Capariño.

“Being an R&D institution under DA, we, at PHilMech are looking at developing this technology that really benefits the farmers. We balanced technology by making it affordable and gender-sensitive such as this village-level coconut water processing system,” he added.

He further said that, the pilot-testing aimed to empower the coconut farmers and to engage them in a community level business enterprise wherein they will do the operation from harvesting to finish product. They will also sell it. In the end, the farmers themselves will benefit.

To make the enterprise more viable, the project was tied up with a cooperative-beneficiary, COCOLIFE Multi-purpose Cooperative located in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. COCLIFE is a coconut farmers’ cooperative that is into Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) production. The reason for this move is because in processing coconut into VCO, coco water turns into waste.

According to Mr. Rudy Ang, chair of COCOLIFE Multi-purpose Cooperative, Although they are still on pilot-testing, they have already started going to schools nearby one is Ateneo, to promote the product so that students will be aware of it and they can patronizing it.

Although the two-year project has developed the technology already, there are still activities to be done. Part of the project is to introduce the coco water to schools as an alternative to softdrink.

“We are targeting the students because it showed that they prefer drinking softdrink. We can lower the price so that it can compete with the price of softdrink. But the challenge really is to formulate a healthy drink that will suit their taste, and coco water is the best healthy alternative,” said Dr. Capariño.

At the moment, the Cooperative is selling a 350 ml bottle of coco water for 15 pesos. They are planning to lower the price once they have introduced the product to schools nearby. ### Rita T. dela Cruz

BAR supports initial research on improving white corn as viable healthy staple

2018-08-23 whitecorngrits“The project ‘Enhancing Nutritional and Grain Qualities of White Corn for Food’ conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) and funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) provided the confirmatory critical technical information and improved seeds of quality protein maize (QPM) in the government’s effort to promote corn as viable healthy staple supplementing rice,” explained Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, project leader and research professor.

Corn, in general, is known as a relatively cheap and nutritious alternative if not supplementary staple food for rice. In 2000, after learning that QPM improved the nutritional status and health of poor Africans, Dr. Salazar and his team bred and developed QPM Var 6 (also known as High Lysine and Tryptophan Corn). According to the researchers, the QPM Var 6 contains 66.2 percent more lysine than the regular white corn. It also contains more tryptophan and protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and antioxidants than rice alone.

Eleven years later, Dr. Salazar and his team conducted the said project to enhance the development of better quality, genetically stable, and highly nutritious corn varieties through utilization of advanced equipment and facilities. The said project was aimed to continue developing white corn open-pollinated varieties which are high yielding and have highly acceptable nutritional and eating qualities.

After ensuring that they have the genetic materials (in improved IPB Var6 developed through the project), they carried out feeding program to the malnourished children in a nearby school. These children are mostly from the informal settlers at the foot of Mount Makiling. “It was shown that [by] providing these malnourished children daily lunch for three months with 50 percent Var6 grits: 50 percent rice gave them higher weight gain than with pure rice,” according to Dr. Salazar. The feeding program was expanded through UPLB-Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension to three more schools in Los Baños.

Simultaneously, the same improved variety was used by IPB in promoting corn grits for adults especially those suffering from diabetes. In fact, Dr. Salazar shared that the grits from the variety was adopted by a diabetes clinic in the biggest hospital in town. He also added that “the grits from the same improved variety were also used by the Department of Agriculture in promoting corn grits as staple.” “The said corn grits were used in launching rice-corn blend by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol in the recent Philippine Corn Congress held at the Philippine International Convention Center last November,” continued Dr. Salazar. This was later endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao later in the year.

“The rice-corn blend has gone a long way. And we are running out of supply. Although not that recognized, it was that project supported by BAR that provided the critical technical confidence and genetic material to go pursue the course. Newer and better genetic materials are in the offing (hybrids included) thru the support from BAR. There is no other public R&D institution supporting this. The support of BAR in this initiative cannot be overestimated,” ended Dr. Salazar. ### Rena S. Hermoso (BAR)/Dr. Artemio M. Salazar (UPLB-IPB)

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