MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is
pinning its hope on a farmer-scientist’s malunggay seedlings
propagation tech-nique to address the increasing demand for
malunggay planting materials in the country, an agriculture
Alicia Ilaga, outgoing director of the DA Biotechnology Program
Office, is endorsing farmer-scientist Terso Rasco’s technique
to farmers engaged in the massive propa-gation of seedlings
of malunggay, scien-tifically known as Moringa oleifera.
Rasco developed a rooting method using bioculture technique
to propagate malung-gay seedlings, improving the conventional
stem cutting technique used by most farmers in propagating malunggay.
Using his technique, farmers could easily double, if not triple,
and at a much shorter time the production of planting materials
which is usually done also by harvesting the mature malunggay
fruits and separating the seeds from the pods from a mature
malunggay tree, Ilaga said.
Malunggay used to be a mere backyard tree, although Filipinos
are already fond of eating malunggay leaves, and its fruit pods,
as ingredients to some favorite Filipino dishes, like ‘tinolang
manok’, ginisang munggo, and ginataang isda. The pods
are cooked together with fish in the Ilocos Region.
Since the DA-BPO embarked on a mas-sive information, education
and commu-nication about the nutritional value of malunggay,
its economic importance was also highlighted.
The moringa seeds are now being eyed for the production of
all-purpose oil, while the leaves are not only sold in the market,
but are processed as well.
A number of farmers have since started planting malunggay,
but the big demand for both the seeds and leaves of malunggay,
requires more planting materials. The production of planting
materials has become a stumbling block, as there are not enough
nurseries to produce the number of seedlings needed to meet
the demand, even of a single local investor who has challenged
the DA to produce the seeds, as well as leaves, to meet the
big market demand abroad.
Another way of producing planting materials is by chopping
down a malunggay tree, chopping its trunk or branches, about
a feet or 12 inches long. When planted, grows roots and produce
new branches. This process, however, results in high mortality
of the planting materials.
Harvesting the seeds from the malunggay fruit takes some time,
while stem cuttings easily die when planted.
Rasco observed that malunggay has the ability to regrow a branch,
or even roots, when cut or chopped down.
“By simply chopping a branch of malunggay and planting
it like a malunggay seed, a new malunggay seedling can be grown,”
Rasco said. “You just have to prepare a good seed bed
for the chopped malunggay branch to grow new seedlings,”
“This is what we need to produce enough number of planting
materials for the commercial cultivation of this miracle tree,”