BAR looks into the potentials of batuan and sampalok

batuanThere is more to batuan (Garcinia binucao) and sampalok (Tamarindus indica) than just souring agents to our favorite dishes. With the instruction from Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) led by Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar is now looking into the possible interventions to tap the potentials of these plants specifically developing new product lines. As initial activity, BAR convened experts and focal persons on indigenous crops for a consultation meeting.

Technology Commercialization Division Head Anthony B. Obligado officially opened the meeting. Joining him were Institutional Development Division Head Digna L. Sandoval and Technical Adviser Virginia Agcopra. In attendance were researchers and experts from selected state universities and colleges (SUCs), Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), and DA attached agencies.

A yellowish fruit when mature, batuan or binukaw is a rounded fruit about four centimeter or more in diameter. It has a firm outer covering and contains acidic pulp with several seeds. Batuan is widely distributed throughout Luzon and Visayan Islands. The people in the Visayan region preferred using batuan more than the native tamarind in souring their local dishes. It was also noted that is used for the same purpose In the Bicol region, particularly in Masbate.

Existing products that are commercially available are candies and pickles including bottled batuan purees from ECJ Farms located in Negros Occidental. Currently, DA Biotech has subjected batuan to DNA barcoding as part of resource identification, conservation and protection. It was also included in the book “Imported and Underutilized Edible Fruits of the Philippines” authored by Dr. Roberto E. Coronel. The book is funded by the BAR through its Scienfic Publication Grant (SPG)Meanwhile, tamarind or sampalok is commonly used as a souring agent as well.  Products from tamarind are already commercially available and are produced by the private sector. Its fruits are also processed into candies with the addition of sugar syrup which is a common regional delicacy. BAR has funded projects on tamarind including tamarind wine and and as ornament in the form of a ‘bonsai’.Dr. Coronel, being greatly inclined with the collection of indigenous fruits, presented his undertakings on the commodities. From his presentation, various cultural management approaches may be used for easy harvesting.

It was agreed that samples of batuan growing from among the different sites (Masbate, Iloilo, and Laguna) will be sent to conduct physico-chemical analysis. Dr. Coronel suggested utilizing its leaves aside from subjecting the fruits in a pickling solution.

A proposal will be crafted focusing on the following researchable areas: 1) benchmarking, 2) propagation, 3) nursery establishment, 4) product development, and 5) market research.  Tamarind, on the hand, will focus on: 1) identification of commodity distribution, 2) product development, and 3) primary processing. ### (Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino, Wilbert Newton T. Pollisco, and Gian Carlo R. Espiritu)

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