1st Malunggay Congress Highlights Success Stories

2 farmers who increased their earnings by shifting to malunggay growing took spotlight 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 just the leaves but also the seeds.

Malunggay remains in demand both as food and as feedstock for biofuel production, according to DA-BPO director Alicia Ilaga.

She states the promo 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 participated in agriculture however shifted tasks after going to a seminar-workshop on economic chances in agricultural biotechnology products arranged by DA-BPO in Naga in 2015.

He informed congress participants that he was convinced about the viability of malunggay cultivation after checking out all the materials about the nutritional worth of the leaves, pods, seeds, roots and even barks of malunggay, which grows virtually all over the nation.

Furthermore, he worried, malunggay endures in practically all types of terrain and under all type of weather conditions.

However, what inspired him to shift to malunggay growing were the financial chances it provided.

Thereupon, he put down all his sculpting tools and began planting malunggay.

Rasco discussed that credit for his success likewise goes to the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), Secura International and DA-BPO, all of which supplied him the support he needed in his new organization.

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 almost requires little management and it grows rapidly.

She said that she collected 4,000 pods per week, which equates to a net income of P10,000 weekly.

Apart from Rasco and Azcueta, researchers who spoke in the congress tackled the technique for worthwhile growing of malunggay and mass proliferation.

Dr. Vivencio Mamaril lectured the individuals on commercial cultivation while Dr. Saturnina Halos discussed the carefree and successful mass proliferation of malunggay.

Leonard Hintz of CTI Biofuels likewise signed up with the congress and tackled the global 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 regional market for malunggay leaves, which are commonly used for a range of meat and fish dishes.

Food processors now use powdered malunggay leaves to fortify noodles given that it is abundant in calcium, Vitamin A, iron and other nutrients, including anti-cancer representatives.