Makapuno, the good mutant

Leila Denisse E. Padilla


Ms. Lani Averion of DA-QAES talks about the potential of makapuno meat products and the makapuno industry during the BAR September seminar series.

Who would know that mutation can result into something good and beneficial?

Makapuno proves this to be true as it is a mutant coconut with valuable potentials to improve income and competitiveness.

Cognizant to its importance, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) featured makapuno meat products in its seminar series held on 19 September at BAR. Invited as resource speaker was Ms. Lani Averion, an agriculturist from the Department of Agriculture-Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station (DA-QAES). She discussed the nature and benefits of makapuno, its industry status, and its various meat products.

In attendace were representatives from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Agriculture and Fisheries Information Services (AFIS), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Regional Field Office I, III, IVA, V, and Central Office), National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), and state universities and colleges including the Camarines Norte State College (CNSC), Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT), Palawan State University (PSU), Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT), and Southern Luzon State University (SLSU).

Benefits from the mutant coconut

Makapuno has a genetic aberration which causes its endosperm to be soft unlike the normal coconut. “Makapuno is a high-value commercial crop in the Philippines. The price of nuts is 10 times higher than the normal coconut due to relative rarity,” explained Ms. Averion.

As the name implies, makapuno means “almost full” describing its filled, white, gelatinous, soft, and translucent endosperm. Given this aberration, makapuno does not germinate or grow normally.

“The only way to mass produce [makapuno] is through embryo culture…Normal embryos from makapuno nuts are rescued for culture in the laboratory using Y3 medium protocol developed by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB),” the resource speaker discussed.

In the 1960s, Dr. Emerita de Guzman of UPLB developed the first makapuno embryo culture, which is now a mature technology that is successfully utilized by several laboratories benefiting coconut farming communities in the Philippines.

Considered a “very lucrative business”, makapuno farming offers a monthly net income of at least P18,000 to P20,000 per hectare after six to seven years of planting when the full-bearing phase is reached. Despite the costly planting materials, the high income has encouraged more and more farmers and investors to venture in the makapuno business.

“There is a high demand of makapuno for both local and foreign market,” Ms. Averion said as she talked about huge ice cream and pastry companies such as Selecta, Magnolia, Jollibee Corporation, and Goldilocks which contribute to the high demand for makapuno.¬¬

Makapuno industry: What lies ahead

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Region IV-A has crafted the Makapuno Roadmap in 2010 and it has aimed that “by 2016, a total of 800 hectares have to be planted with makapuno to ensure stable supply and to fill the gap of raw materials”.

Over 4.2 million kilograms is the demand for makapuno each year and with the current supply of over 200,000 kilograms per year, only ½1 of the demand is covered. Over 7M makapuno nuts should be planted in order to suffice for the supply-demand gap of over 3.9 million kilograms per year. This gap is being filled through productivity improvement projects and research and development endeavors to attain the goal in 2016.

Various makapuno meat products including tarts, macaroons, muffins, macapuno strings and balls, pie, candy, and soap.

The versatile makapuno

In partnership with BAR, QAES has conducted a product development project to create various products made of the delicious makapuno meat. Food products developed include makapuno candy, balls, strings, pie, muffin, tart, and macaroons, while the non-food product is makapuno soap.

These products were featured by Ms. Averion during the seminar with the food products given to the participants for taste-test. Feedback from the participants was generally positive in terms of appearance and taste. The processing of these products was also discussed in detail.

“Technologies that can be transferred to the communities which will create additional income-earning opportunities must be developed…In the development of such technologies, the interest of the makapuno growers and coconut farmers should be considered foremost,” concluded Ms. Averion. ###