Production of Nipa Palm sugar expanded

2018-01-08 Production of Nipa Palm sugar expandedTaking off from the initial success of an earlier project in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur of the Foundation for Rural Enterprise and Ecology Development of Mindanao (FREEDOM), Inc. the production on Nipa Palm sugar has now expanded to cover Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

The upscaling of the project was confirmed during a project site visit of a monitoring team from the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in Butuan City.

Funded by BAR, through its National Technology Commercialization Program, the project aimed to provide a viable source of sustainable livelihood to selected coastal communities in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur and nearby municipalities.

“However, developments and interest in the product has generated more interest, which required adjustments to address the current need for expansion,” explained Mr. Antonio S. Peralta, executive director of FREEDOM, Inc.

With the assistance of FREEDOM, Inc., the Municipality of Lanuza in Surigao del Sur was able to obtain a Php 33 million grant from the Peoples Survival Fund established by the national government. From this funding, Php 7 million was allotted to support the Nipa Palm sugar project in Lanuza. Therefore, FREEDOM, Inc. with the approval from BAR expanded the project to Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro and Butuan City, Agusan del Norte to cater the need for expansion in other areas that are significantly closer to urban markets.

“FREEDOM, Inc. has established a smallscale processing facility in Butuan City in partnership with Barangay Babag because it is the source of Nipa sap in Butuan City,” said Mr. Peralta.

A Nipa Palm sap facility was established in Brgy. Babag and it was made possible through a Memorandum of Agreement between FREEDOM, Inc. and the Barangay Council of Babag. A Nipa Palm processing facility that can accommodate bigger volume of Nipa sugar production was also constructed.

A mechanical dryer with a built in thermometer was also acquired. This helped reduce the moisture content from 10 to 2 percent and has resulted to a better taste. Aside from better taste, the Nipa Palm produced is also of lighter color and has better texture compared to coco sugar. The processing facility is the first of its kind in the country that can produce Nipa Palm sugar in commercial quantities.

Mr. Peralta shared the marketing activities for Nipa Palm sugar. He mentioned that they are currently waiting for the arrival of the product certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a prerequisite of their prospective buyers in Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, Middle East, and United States. They are also working to comply with the product certification requirements from Biodiversity Management Bureau and Mindanao Halal Authority.

Nipa Palm sugar, a natural sweetener with low glycemic index, is produced from the sap of nipa palm (Nypa fruticans), commonly used in the Philippines as roofing materials for bahay kubo or processed as vinegar (sukang paombong) or wine (laksoy).

Currently, the Nipa Palm sugar is being marketed in selected outlets in Davao City and other urban areas in Mindanao at a smallerscale. It is available in 250g stand up pouch for Php 145. According to Mr. Peralta, “nipa palm sugar is seen as a lower cost product as compared to coco sugar [thus] this will provide a lower cost alternative to consumers and to those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.” ### (Rena S. Hermoso/DA-BAR)

Reducing postharvest losses in Wombok

IMG 8332Before cabbages are displayed on the isles of our local supermarkets, all wrapped up in a thin sheet of plastic, chilled, and tagged with a seemingly expensive price per piece, cabbages had to undergo a number of postharvest handling steps for it to get from farm to final display.

This entire process of handling harvested cabbage puts a lot of stress to the commodity, ultimately affecting its size. Most consumers who only get their produce at the supermarket are generally unaware that a piece of purchased cabbage could have bought them an entire sack of the same produce at a farm level, what makes the produce more expensive are the costs that cover the commodity’s journey to the dining table.

Wombok, pechay or Chinese cabbage, is a leafy vegetable commonly used in cooking Filipino dishes like pansit and bulalo. It’s also the main ingredient of kimchi, a Korean staple that Filipinos have learned to love.

Despite being a common ingredient for a lot of Asian dishes, Chinese cabbage is a commodity that sheds a lot of its leaves when handled improperly. “Nang dahil sa hindi tamang pag-handle ng ating commodity ang nangyayari ay nasisira ito, ito ay nagiging ‘loss’ na. ‘Loss’ sa magiging produkto at ‘loss’ doon sa income ng mga farmers,” explained Dr. Perlita A. Nuevo of the Postharvest Horticulture and Research Center (PHTRC), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)

IMG 8496According to Dr. Nuevo, Wombok’s leafiness accounts for the commodity’s tendency to wither quickly. The more postharvest handling it undergoes, the more of Wombok’s leaves are shed. If one were to visit the trading post where truckloads of Wombok are delivered to the city, workers would package Wombok one by one, wrapping them in newspaper sheets and placing them on plastic sacks, all while standing on a green and white carpet of withered or bruised cabbage leaves that were peeled off. Dr. Nuevo has observed in her studies at the PHTRC that Wombok sheds off 38 percent of its size when it finally reaches final market.

In the Cordillera and Mountain Province regions, Dr. Nuevo, Ms. Matilde V. Maunahan, and her team of researchers from PHTRC-UPLB studied the postharvest practices of Wombok as part of their contribution to a postharvest manual that was published by the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI), a Korea-base intergovernmental and multilateral cooperation body, where the Philippines is a member of, along with other 13 Asian countries.

It was observed in their studies that since the commodity is planted in the uplands, transporting the cabbage to Metro Manila where the temperature is much hotter than Baguio, causes the leaves to wither and turn yellowish therefore deeming the produce to fall short of market standards. Even before Wombok is brought to the lowlands, some traditional postharvest practices done by the farmers themselves such as placing their harvest in containers with hard or sharp edges were observed to bruise the crops’ outer leaves which makes it more likely to be peeled off.

IMG 8509Seeing how farmers work very hard to sell their produce by the kilo, Dr. Nuevo and her colleagues set out to produce a simple postharvest guide that would minimize agricultural wastes caused by poor postharvest practices. They introduced these interventions to the local farmers by way of IEC materials that the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) reproduced through funding assistance from AFACI. Since its inception in 2010, BAR serves as the lead coordinating agency of the AFACI-funded projects in the Philippines.

“Pag maganda ang paghandle ng ating Wombok, mas matagal ang storage ng ating commodity, mas matagal ang niya, mas matagal ang panahon pata maibenta iyan,” added Dr. Nuevo.

An example of the technology interventions introduced to local cabbage growers is the immediate wrapping newspaper sheets or plastic of wombok after it was harvested in the field even before it is hauled on to the trucks. Another simple solution PHTRC came up with was the placement of Wombok in a crate: damage is less likely to happen if Wombok is placed upside-down, with its tip facing the bottom of the container.

These solutions may sound simple but if practiced, PHTRC calculated an eight percent decrease to postharvest wastes. “The main challenge of the farmer is the terrain, nasa bulubundukin ang taniman ng farmer so he or she has to level a small portion of the earth where cabbage can be planted on. Maliit lang ang production area ng farmer,” shared Dr. Nuevo as she underscored the importance of improved postharvest technologies that can lead to increased profitability.

PHTRC’s research on Wombok is part of AFACI’s initiatives to strengthen the value chain of various vegetable commodities across Asia. By 2016, AFACI has successfully published three manuals highlighting improved postharvest practices for high-value crops namely tomatoes, cabbage, chili peppers, and banana. Since AFACI is an inter-governmental and multi-lateral cooperation, the manuals aimed to present the various practices done in specific Asian member-countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea.

In the Philippines, PHTRC has shared copies of the manuals to provincial agricultural offices, agricultural universities, and farmer associations. PHTRC’s partnership with BAR continues to do extension work for Dr. Nuevo’s research outputs by packaging the information in simple and concise guides for Filipino cabbage farmers. ### (Ephraim John J. Gestupa/DA-BAR)

Tinapang bangus with a twist

7-10-18 IMG 0051Milk fish (Chanos chanos) or bangus is one of the staples in the Filipino diet. Notorious for its delectable meat full of bones, it is usually preferred by consumers when it is processed into boneless or soft-boned. Bangus products such as tinapang bangus and daing na bangus are amongst the breakfast staples of Pinoys.

Smoking is one of the oldest forms of food preservation according to studies. Smoking not only preserves the meat but also adds the appealing smoke flavor. In the Philippines, smoked fish products, commonly referred to as tinapa, are usually made from bangus or round scad (galunggong).

With the tight competition in the market and the growing awareness of the consumers, innovating products can probide a better chance at being successful. Tinapang bangus are all-over the market, you can find it most talipapa and palengke. Thus, it is quite a challenge to innovate this product.

SLSU’s herb-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus

Prompted with the persistent demand for the supply of bangus in the local market, the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU)-Judge Guillermo Eleazar, in collaboration with Lamon Bay School of Fisheries, conducted a study that explored the product enhancement of smoked soft-boned bangus. Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research, through its National Technology Commercialization Program, the study aimed to: improve the existing processing facilities as well as the smoking process, identify the most acceptable herb enhancer in terms of taste and odor, enhance the market appeal and storage condition through proper packaging and labeling of the product, and commercialize the technology on enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus.

The study tested three herbs separately (i.e. tarragon, rosemary, and Italian oregano) to enhance the flavor and appearance of the smoked soft-boned bangus. These herbs were incorporated during the brining, pressure cooking, and smoking stages. Among these herbs, tarragon proved to be the most acceptable in terms of taste and appearance after a series of acceptability test.

Commercializing the herb-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus

“The capability of the product to offer income to the adopters play a crucial role in the commercialization of technology,” said Mr. Cesar Nazareno, project proponent. Thus, the study also presented the cost and return analysis of tarragon-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus.

The tarragon-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus has higher return on investment (ROI) rate at 52 percent compared to the 29 percent ROI of plain smoked bangus according to the study. In the duration of the study, eight individuals adopted the technology on the tarragon-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus. In their initial performance, two of them were able to generate an ROI of more than 60 percent.

Mr. Nazareno said, “[t]he technology on herb-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus is found profitable owing to the initial results of ROI and increasing market demands. Increased income is attributed to value-adding in terms of herbs, proper packaging and labeling, and longer shelf life.”

As part of the study, the technology on herb-enhanced smoked soft-boned bangus was promoted through distributing information, education and communication materials (i.e. fliers and technoguides); conducting series of demonstrations and training for the prospective adopters and selected target market; and, exhibiting the product in forums, product exhibit, and trade exhibit.

Moving forward with the technology

According to Mr. Nazareno, project proponent, once the technology is embraced by fish smoking processors and penetrated the market, maximum utilization of the whole bangus is now feasible with the added nutritive value in terms of edible spines and herbs. More so, this new technology offers “many advantages to the resource fisherfolks who could raise the technology for his family and to the entrepreneur who could produce the product for profit,” said Dr. Victoria M. Noble, project leader. ###(Rena S. Hermoso)

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For more information:
Dr. Victoria M. Noble
Project Leader
SLSU-Judge Guillermo Eleazar
Tagkawayan, Quezon
mobile: (0947) 175 8494
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Leading the way for better, safer seaweed and fish products

2018-07-26 Leading the way for better safer seaweed and fish productsDuring the 7th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) in August 2011 at the SM MegaMall in Mandaluyong City, a curious crowd had gathered to watch a cooking demonstration. The two dishes being prepared were spaghetti and leche flan. Now, this may not have looked like anything out of the ordinary save for one thing – the spaghetti and leche flan were made with seaweed! They looked like the real thing. Those who got to taste the dishes said they were good.

Preparing the dishes then were Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 5-Regional Fisheries R&D Center (BFAR 5-RFRDC) Manager Aida Andayog and her staff who are based in Sorsogon where the center’s researches on seaweed and seaweed products are conducted. Already, the center has demonstrated that local edible seaweeds can be used to make a variety of food. To date, they have come up with some 20 value-added products from seaweed.

But why use seaweed for everyday food?

To the researchers, the edible seaweeds can substitute for many of our daily dishes. According to Ms. Andayog, “Seaweeds are nutritious. They can help build and sustain the broad nutritional requirements and balance of vitamins, minerals and vital nutrients”. Her team has used them for making pansit/noodles, pickles, morcon, lumpia, chocolate, jam/marmalade and nata de seaweed. Their food potentials continue as they can be used as stabilizer, emulsifier, binder, thickening agent and jelly. They also have applications in medicine and in industry owing to their unique characteristics. They also find use in wastewater treatment, and as animal feed and fertilizer.

Much of man’s civilization developed along the seacoasts and seaweeds have been part of his diet. In Asia, where the use of these plants as food is most developed, particularly Japan, Korea, and China, seaweed cultivation is a major industry. It is eaten as a vegetable in raw or processed form, as a food wrapper, as a cooked rice and dish enhancer, and many others. Presently, in the coastal areas of the Bicol region’s provinces (Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate) where seaweed can grow, many of the communities are engaged in seaweed farming. The Bicol region, particularly the Province of Sorsogon, commercially important seaweeds grow abundantly and include species of Eucheuma, Gracilaria, Caulerpa, Gelidium, and Kappapychus.

Bicol is also rich in marine fish and the region has been processing tuna, snapper, sardines, croakers, siganids, and others for food through traditional sun-drying, smoking (“inagunan”), and fermentation methods. Some are unique to Bicol and the rest of the country is yet to be acquainted with them.

To the residents, these are not just food but they provide much needed extra income. These products have high demand from both local and foreign tourists. The possibility of opening up more livelihood opportunities for fishermen and other workers is a compelling reason for BFAR Region 5 to improve on and expand these cottage industries.

However, for the seaweed and marine food products produced by the coastal communities of Bicol to penetrate a wider market, these need to undergo further product improvement and pass the hurdle of regulations and protocols governing food preparations for safety reasons. Product acceptability among would-be entrepreneurs and the business and marketing side of production also have to be explored.

In 2017, BFAR 5 submitted a proposal to BAR titled, “Technology Enhancement and Utilization of Seaweeds Value-Added and Fishery Products in Bicol Region” to address these concerns. Broadly, the project looked into the production and commercialization of seaweeds and processed fish products with the view of enhancing their viability in the market and creates livelihood opportunities in the coastal communities of the region.

More specifically, it intends to enhance the quality and packaging of processed fish and the production of seaweeds products; test for the nutritional and microbiological contents of the products; and acquire an understanding of their acceptability and the preferences of consumers through market studies in order to make the commercialization of local seaweed and fish products industries viable. To promote livelihood opportunities, the project provided technical assistance and input support to identified groups through demonstrations and trainings on value-added seaweed and fish products.

On the improvement of seaweed value-added products, the project implementers plan to enhance their sensory characteristics (e.g., look, smell, taste, texture) and the quality of packaging and labeling. As for fish products, their processing (drying, smoking, and fermentation) is to be improved with good manufacturing practices (GMP).

The project implementers believe that food safety is a basic consideration. Food coming from the sea has its own hazards. Contaminated and adulterated food can result to illness or worse. For both kinds of products, the application of Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), in addition to GMP, was to be conducted to promote food safety and food quality in compliance with the standards set by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

By the end of the project, the implementers accomplished the following: improvements in at least four products - spicy noodles, seaweed sauce, seaweed cookies and marshmallows – in terms of their sensory characteristics, labeling and packaging; the nutritional and microbiological contents of the seaweed and fish products determined; demonstrations on the technologies updated/developed that promote livelihood opportunities for local organizations, out-of-school youth and fisherfolk in at least one site per province in the region conducted; and identified peoples organizations (PO) assisted in linking with LGUs and other appropriate agencies, given trainings on production, and provided with technical assistance on product safety, packaging, promotion, marketing, and related support.

An early participant in BFAR5’s promotion of seaweed value-added products is the Tabaco Faith International Church – Ladies Association in Tabaco, Albay. Now known as the Tabaco Christian Producer Cooperative (TCPC), the organization has been commercially producing seaweed-fortified pansit and other value-added products, such as seaweed pickles and nata de seaweed, using the technologies developed by BFAR5-RFRDC. Its seaweed pansit has reached the cities of Manila and Cebu, and, surprisingly, South Korea. In year 2012 alone, the TCPC turned out 1,200 kg of the product and this has been increasing annually. The TCPC is assisted by BFAR5-RFCDC in the improvement of its processing methods and in the conduct of market studies in order to expand the business.

Other organizations in Bicol have begun to adopt the technologies on seaweed value-added products as well. Some of the members of a PO in Sorsogon could not wait and have gone ahead and are already doing home-based businesses in making seaweed jelly flan, pickles, juice, and ice candy. ###Victoriano B. Guiam

For more information:
Ms. Aida S. Andayog
Project Leader/RFRDC Manager
BFAR 5 RFRDC
Cabid-an, Sorsogon City, Sorsogon
Phone: +63 (054) 228 0839
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BAR supports R&D initiatives on jackfruit

07-09-18 EVIARC Sweet“Jackfruit is considered by the Department of Agriculture (DA) as one of the high-value crops and is one of the priority commodities of Eastern Visayas to be commercialized. And for that to happen, we should increase its production and improve its productivity. This is when we implemented the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) on jackfruit Production and Processing in Barangays San Isidro and Malinao in Mahaplag, Leyte,” said Ms. Alicia Bulawan, co-leader of the CPAR project.

Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the CPAR project implemented from 2010 to 2013 aimed to pilot a village-level production and processing scheme for jackfruit to support the commercialization of jackfruit in the region.

Based on the results of the participatory rural appraisal among the members of Mahaplag Jackfruit Growers Association, project cooperators, the following problems on jackfruit production were identified: lack of capital, lack of technical knowledge on cultural management and processing of jackfruit, occurrence of pests and diseases and high cost of production inputs.

Hence, the DA-Regional Field Office 8, through the Eastern Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (EVIARC), in collaboration with the Visayas State University (VSU), developed technologies on jackfruit. These were taught to the farmers through the conduct of trainings and workshops.

“We provided them with appropriate technologies on integrated nutrient management, pest management, and pruning strategies,” Bulawan said. Aside from production management, the CPAR project also provided trainings for home-based processing of jackfruit products. “We have also introduced processing jackfruit into pastillas, tart, jam, and jelly to women from the same association. Most of them are the farmers’ wives,” she added.

After two years of implementation, jackfruit yield increased from 8 metric tons to 15 metric tons per hectare; production areas were expanded to 11 hectares; number of farmer-cooperators increased from 22 to 52; and average income was boosted from Php 96,250 to Php 317,500. Establishment of plant nurseries as scheme to expand plantation was made possible through the project.

CPAR, one of the banner programs of BAR, is a location-specific research cum extension modality that deals with improved technologies for the farming and fishing communities. Through the years, CPAR has helped in improving the lives of our farmer cooperators and adoptors.

Other BAR-funded R&D initiatives on jackfruit

BAR has since then continually supports research and development (R&D) initiatives on jackfruit. One of these projects is the collaboration project of BAR and VSU that aimed to produce chitin and chitosan from chitin-containing crustacean exoskeleton wastes, and to evaluate their potential together with raw materials for the control of Phytophthora palmivora — a disease that is affecting the production of jackfruit in the country. Through this project, researchers were able to identify the most effective chitin and chitosan source as well as the most effective method of treatment application.

Aside from Phytophthora palmivora, the high seasonality of jackfruit also affects its production. “Studies on the flowering behavior of EVIARC Sweet jackfruit, which was developed by DA-EVIARC, revealed that flowers were mostly produced in the months of November and December and in February and March,” said Dr. Dario Lina, assistant professor at VSU. To address this problem, Dr. Lina is currently implementing a project aimed to increase the productivity and raise competitiveness of the jackfruit industry in Eastern Visayas through science-based manipulation of year-round production of fruits to support fresh market and processing industries.

Another on-going project on jackfruit by the University of the Philippines Los Baños is the “DNA Barcoding, Georeferencing, Morphological Characterization, Preliminary Evaluation and Selection of Philippine Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam) Germplasm and its Relevance.” Started earlier this year, the project is aimed to improve the characterization, conservation and utilization of jackfruit and its related endemic species through the creation of quick, cost-effective and reliable identification, monitoring and characterization scheme using DNA barcodes, georeferenced maps and characterization profiles.

“In a status report of jackfruit improvement in the Asia-Pacific Region by Sidhu, the importance of molecular markers was cited as one of the future prospects and strategy for jackfruit production and utilization, indicating its usefulness in popularizing this species as a commercial crop, for identification and for breeding purposes,” said Ms. Teresita Borromeo, project leader. ### (Rena S. Hermoso)

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