Processed Onion In The Ilocos

Dr. Wilhelmina Castaneda showing
a pack of Miki noodles with garlic flavor.
DR. LUCIANA CRUZ  with shallot pickle.

Attending agricultural exhibits is really rewarding. You meet a lot of interesting people and you learn about their interesting products or technologies.


Just like, for instance, at the exhibits staged by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) last August 9-12 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

There we met for the first time a townmate who has been doing research on shallot or what Ilocanos popularly call “lasona” or native onion. Elsewhere, the same onion is called “sibuyas Tagalog.”

Our townmate from Batac City is Dr. Luciana Torres-Cruz who is a home technology graduate from  Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), masters in Extension Education from UP Los Banos and another expertise for her PhD degree. Of course, she was excited to tell us about the products of her research project on native onion funded by BAR.

Through the BAR funding, she was able to develop technologies that could be adopted by investors in commercializing processed shallot products. These technologies are helpful not only to the investors in processing but also to the farmers who grow native onion.

There are times when farmgate price is so low that it will be a losing proposition for the farmer. Normally, the farmer has to sell his crop not long after harvest because without proper postharvest handling, the onion could spoil. Hence, the processing techniques developed by Dr. Cruz would be very helpful.

The products that Dr. Cruz has developed include shallot pickle which could be used as an appetizer. She says that she has developed an even more delightful appetizer which she calls confit. To produce this, the bulbs are cooked under very slow fire until they are almost totally dry. The other products are shallot chips and powder. These are also useful for homemakers in preparing their favorite dishes that require onion flavoring.

Of course, the research also included the improvement of production techniques in the farmers’ fields. The techniques include the use of organic fertilizer as well as organic biopesticide.

One biopesticide that has impressed Dr. Cruz is Antica, the first organic fungicide that was certified by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA). Antica does not only have fungicidal properties, it also has bactericidal effects. It was developed by Engr. Gigi Zaballero and is produced by Ahcil Laboratories in Cebu.

Dr. Cruz said that Antica is really effective against bulb rot and tangle top which are two serious diseases of onion in the Ilocos and elsewhere. She reported that the plants sprayed with Antica produced 20 tons per hectare. On the other hand, the counterpart plants that were sprayed with the usual pesticides used by the farmers yielded only 10 tons.

She said the farmers are really convinced about the effectiveness of Antica in growing their crops. Unfortunately, she said, Antica is not readily available in the Ilocos. It seems there are no distributors in the area.

Another researcher from DA Region 1 that we met at the exhibits was Dr. Wilhelmina P. Castaneda, another townmate who is also undertaking a research project funded by BAR. Her subject of research is garlic, both for improving production techniques in the farm as well as developing products that use garlic.

One of the little known products developed by Dr. Castaneda is ready-to-cook “miki” which looks like flat noodles. The product already has powdered garlic and some other flavoring. Miki is a long-time favorite of Ilocanos that is usually cooked during special occasions. But the old way is kneading the dough and then cutting the same into small strips with a pair of scissors.

DR.LUCIANA CRUZ (2nd from left)  explains to a customer,
Maribel Soriano, the uses of her processed shallot while
Dr. Wilhelmina P. Castaneda at right looks on.
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