Attending agri fairs can be rewarding in a number of ways. You get to meet people with similar interest as well as know new products and services that are useful to you.
Just like at the recent agri expo under the auspices of the Bureau of Agricultural Research, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, at the SM Mega Mall in Mandaluyong City last August 8 to 10.
We were most fascinated by the native fruits of Palawan displayed by Region IV-B or Mimaropa (Mindoro Masbate, Romblon and Palawan). We didn’t realize that there is a native counterpart of the well-loved Chempedak that is popular in Malaysia and Thailand.
The Palawan version is botanically called Artocarpus chempedeu and known in Palawan as Badak. It belongs to the family of the jackfruit that you and I know. It is like a small elongated version of the jackfruit. At first glance you will not suspect it has commercial possibilities. But who knows, it could be improved through constant selection or breeding by our scientists.
Native species are acclimatized to local conditions ane are usually more resistant to pests and diseases. With improved characteristics through selection, the resulting cultivar could be commercially valuable. Who knows?
The Chempedak in Thailand has big round seeds coated with yellow flesh. Instead of eating the flesh like we do the jackfruit, we saw at the Chatuchak market the whole seeds cum flesh being deep fried and is apparently well liked by customers.
Carmen Honrade who was tending the region’s booth told us that Dr. Romeo Lerom of the Western Philippine University is the fellow who has been collecting the native fruits of Palawan. We were shown pastillas made from Badak.
Another interesting native Palawan fruit is the wild mangosteen locally called Bunog. The fruit may be eaten fresh. Then there is the red durian locally called Dugyan and botanically called Durio glaveolens. Aside from eating the flesh fresh, it could be cooked and mixed with milk and sugar. A fourth native fruit is called Palau Saguit-saguit known botanically by its unpronounceable name – Wellughbeiu sarawacensis.
These native fruits may not taste as delicious as your favorites but they are worth noting. Who knows, they might also have medicinal properties.
WINES FROM NORTHEN MINDANAO – If you are a wine lover you would have been fascinated by the many wines displayed in the booth of NOMIARC or the Northern Mindanao Integrated Agricultural Research Consortium based in Cagayan de Oro. One that Antonieta Tumapon of the Department of Agriculture’s Region 10 was so proud showing us was the roselle wine. Roselle is an old minor crop in the Ilocos during our boyhood but we didn’t realize then that the plant has many medicinal attributes. We used to drink ‘roselle coffee’ during those years. Now many people are processing the different parts of the plant into wellness products, including sweet wine.
The other wines from NOMIARC include balimbing, adlai, tambis (makopa), camote, yacon, banana and langka. The lankoga wine is a concoction of the Indigenous People from Bukidnon and is made from adlai and corn.
CIVET COFFEE – We were also fascinated by the civet coffee displayed at the Kalinga Brew booth. We were told that the coffee beans that were excreted by the musang or mutit, as they call the civet cat in Kalinga, was being sold at P1,000 per kilo.
SWEET SORGHUM COUPLE – The hard-working couple who might as well be called the Sweet Sorghum Couple was also there. They are Tonito and Doris Arcangel of Batac City who are the pioneers in commercializing products from the sweet sorghum introduced several years ago through the help of Dr. William Dar, the director general of ICRISAT or International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics.
They dispensed fresh sweet sorghum juice which is a refreshing drink. Tonito was very proud of his sweet sorghum sugar which he made through spray-drying. Normally, the sweet sorghum juice will not form granules when cooked, unlike sugarcane juice.
Other products are syrup, vinegar, flour and sanitizer. They are also selling seeds for planting.
To quote Tonito, sweet sorghum is a multi-purpose smart crop grown simultaneously for the production of grains for human food and animal feed. The juicy stalks are somewhat like sugarcane. The juice is used for making vinegar, syrup, wine and different grades of alcohol. It is also used for bio-fuel. The bagasse and the green leaves are fed to animals, or they can be used for making organic fertilizer and paper. The grains are rich in protein while the juice is rich in potassium, iron and calcium.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research has been providing financial support to the project of the Arcangels.