1st Malunggay Congress highlights success stories
Quezon City (26 November) -- Two farmers who multiplied their incomes by shifting to malunggay cultivation took center stage last Monday in the 1st Malunggay Congress held from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Open Plaza of the Institute of Small Scale Industries (ISSI) in UP Diliman as part of the 4th National Biotechnology Week.
The congress was spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture–Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) and the Biotechnology Information and Organization Network (BIONet Pilipinas.)
Terso Rasco, president of the Camarines Norte Malunggay Planters Association and Lourdes Azcueta, a farmer from Ilocos Sur, shared their experiences in raising their incomes by cultivating malunggay and selling not only the leaves but also the seeds.
Malunggay is in demand both as food and as feedstock for biofuel production, according to DA-BPO director Alicia Ilaga.
She says the promotion of malunggay production hews closely to the food security program of Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap.
Rasco, originally a wood carver, narrated that he was not engaged in agriculture but shifted jobs after attending a seminar-workshop on economic opportunities in agricultural biotechnology products organized by DA-BPO in Naga last year.
He told congress participants that he was convinced about the viability of malunggay cultivation after reading all the materials about the nutritional value of the leaves, pods, seeds, roots and even barks of malunggay, which grows practically all over the country.
Moreover, he stressed, malunggay survives in practically all types of terrain and under all kinds of climatic conditions.
However, what motivated him to shift to malunggay cultivation were the economic opportunities it presented.
Thereupon, he put down all his carving tools and started planting malunggay.
Rasco explained that credit for his success also goes to to the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), Secura International and DA-BPO, all of which provided him the support he needed in his fledgling business.
For her part, Azcueta revealed that she never knew the economic benefits of malunggay, which is commonly used in the Ilocos Region to demarcate properties.
Azcueta noted that malunggay practically needs little management and it grows quickly.
She said that she harvested 4,000 pods per week, which translates to a net income of P10,000 each week.
Apart from Rasco and Azcueta, scientists who spoke in the congress tackled the method for fruitful cultivation of malunggay and mass propagation.
Dr. Vivencio Mamaril lectured the participants on commercial cultivation while Dr. Saturnina Halos discussed the worry-free and successful mass propagation of malunggay.
Leonard Hintz of CTI Biofuels also joined the congress and tackled the international market for moringa oil, which is derived from the seeds of malunggay.
Moringa oil can be used as edible oil and feedstock for biofuel, he said.
Rainier Villanueva of the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Inc. lectured on the local market for malunggay leaves, which are commonly used for a variety of meat and fish dishes.
Food processors now use powdered malunggay leaves to fortify noodles since it is rich in calcium, Vitamin A, iron and other nutrients, including anti-cancer agents.
Aldo Filomeno of the Program Management Department (PMD) of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) also informed participants about the windows for malunggay financing and gave them pointers on how to avail themselves of easy credit from the bank. (biolife news service/PIA 12) [top]