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Philippines DA pushes Central Luzon
as aggie biotech hub 16-October-2008 BusinessMirror
THE Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology
Program Office (DA-BPO) is eyeing to develop Central Luzon
as a hub for agricultural biotechnology products and has conducted
a series of seminars in the region to promote the cultivation
of crops with many byproducts to raise rural incomes and improve
Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso and Bataan Vice Gov. Serafin
Roman attended the seminars in their provinces.
These seminars were attended by farmers, educators, businessmen,
nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and representatives of
local government units (LGUs).
Malunggay production was a key topic in the seminars, since
the versatile tree has proven to be a major source of iron,
vitamin A, zinc and other micronutrients crucial to the
improvement of health among children and adults alike.
DA-BPO officials, led by director Alicia Ilaga, have been
crisscrossing the country to expand the hectarage devoted
to malunggay cultivation and, in the process, have increased
the business opportunities offered by the lowly malunggay
(Moringa oleifera Lmk).
Malunggay has also been known to increase the motility
of sperm and improve lactation among nursing mothers, which
is a boost to children who need to suckle their mothers
in order to avoid contracting primary complex, which leads
to lung diseases in adulthood.
Other studies conducted in India and other countries showed
that the roots of malunggay have anticancer agents that
can be isolated and used profitably by the global pharmaceutical
Moreover, LGUs interested in joining the biofuel bandwagon
also have a ready energy source in malunggay since its trunk
can be used to produce ethanol, while its seeds are a fount
Central Luzon is known as the primary rice producer of
the Philippines, with 525,700 hectares of land devoted to
the staple. Nueva Ecija alone produces about 8 percent of
the total national production of palay.
The total hectarage for rice comprises 41 percent of the
region’s total territory.
Other agricultural products in the region are sugar cane,
corn, mango and cutflowers.
In Zambales alone, 25,412 hectares are utilized for rice
On the other hand, Bataan has 29,938 hectares earmarked
for rice cultivation.
In the seminars conducted by DA-BPO, participants were
shown malunggay’s potential as a commodity with various
applications and even bakeries, pastry shops and noodle
manufacturers are now using malunggay leaves as ingredients
for their products, some of which have already penetrated
the international market.
Secura International president Danilo Manayaga also joined
the seminars and discussed how Moringa oil can be profitable
for malunggay growers.
He further said that as the world market shifts to biofuel
as a primary energy source, the demand for Moringa oil will
In an interview, Roman said Bataan is now ready to make
malunggay a primary product.
“Bataan is a mountainous area, so [there’s a lot of] upland
farming. Malunggay doesn’t need a lot of water, so if you’re
talking upland farming, that place is suitable for malunggay,”
When asked on the province’s stand on biotechnology, he
said Bataan has been cultivating Bacillus thuringiensis
(Bt) corn to help farmers gain more profit. Corn is a prime
crop in Bataan.
Roman added other crops like coconut and cassava are open
to enhancement through biotechnology.
While the land devoted to farming is small, the people
of Bataan are very keen on intensifying agricultural production
through the efficient use of farms.
Lagundi, another plant that has gained fame for its medicinal
properties, is cultivated in Bataan. A pharmaceutical company
in Bagac is planting it and manufacturing various preparations
from the active ingredient derived from the plant.
There is also a plan to set up a malunggay nursery in the
province to help boost the growing malunggay industry. This,
he said, will be realized through the collaboration of the
LGUs and the DA-BPO.
Biotechnology is a major part of Deloso’s vision to develop
Zambales as a key agricultural producer.
His long-term plan for Zambales is to create a community
that can stand on its own. Biotechnology should play the
role of realizing the industrialization of the province
Deloso said that while the province is undergoing industrialization,
biotechnology should take care of the food and nutrition
needs of the people of Zambales.
“It was neglected,” was his answer, when asked on the status
of malunggay farming in the province. “It wasn’t given so
much attention. But if that’s really given primary concern
that will expand, because we can easily adapt to malunggay.”
He also revealed the provincial government’s plan to buy
malunggay seedlings and distribute these to his constituents.
Zambales is also working on a project to build a biogas
plant, where waste generated by Zambales, including Olongapo,
will be used to produce butane.
Aside from Bataan and Zambales, a malunggay nursery has
been put up in Tarlac earlier in this year.
This was done through the initiative of BIONet-Pilipinas,
an organization that aims to help farmers and stakeholders
reach their products to the market, DA-BPO and the LGU.
Biolife News Service
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