AMPALAYA NUTRACEUTICALS in the form of capsule and tea are fast becoming bestsellers in the local as well as foreign markets. And the prospects are bright for their continued popularity not just as food supplement. They are perceived to have medicinal attributes not only for diabetes but also for other ailments.
Unfortunately, the raw materials used to make ampalaya capsule and tea have to be imported from abroad. Just like Herbcare Corporation which manufactures Charantia ampalaya nutraceuticals, for instance. The company spends precious dollars for importing dried ampalaya fruits from Vietnam.
And if you ask Lito Abelarde, Herbcare chairman, his fervent dream is for local farmers to produce their requirements. And he believes there is no reason why local farmers cannot. In fact, he said he had brought some seeds of the variety that he imports from Vietnam for trial planting in his farm in Laguna. And he reported that they were able to produce a respectable harvest from their trial planting.
Then he asked the help of East-West Seed Company which developed the E-W 242 variety that Vietnamese farmers are growing in their farms and which Herbcare imports. This led to the trial planting of the same variety in the Yazaki Farm in Tanauan City. Last November 19, a field tour was conducted to show to visitors the plants at the Yazaki Farm, which proved to be promising. The plants are fruiting very well even without spraying them with chemical pesticide to protect them from insect damage.
Mr. Abelarde had sought the collaboration of East-West Seed because the variety from Vietnam is his preferred variety because of its special flavor. What he hopes to happen is a supply chain with no missing gaps. Which means that aside from the availability of the desired varieties, the production experts should also be there to provide the farmers with good agricultural practices.
Then there should be the consolidator who procures the fresh harvest from the farmers and dries or prepares them for the use of the manufactures and marketers. For this purpose, Mr. Abelarde appreciated the likes of Patrick Roquel of Binhi Company that consolidates fresh harvests from farmers and supplies the semi-processed (dried) herbal materials to the manufacturers of nutraceutical products.
Mr. Abelarde stressed that the Philippines has rich resources in terms of raw materials for nutraceuticals as well as the talent of researchers and entrepreneurs that can exploit to the maximum the opportunities at hand.