Malunggay, the health crop that generates income for farmers

July 21, 2010 12:29 pm 

MANILA, July 21 —Senator Loren Legarda pushed on Tuesday for the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of malunggay in all suitable areas of the country to maximize the benefits of the exceptionally nutritious and productive but underutilized tropical crop.

“I filed Senate Bill No. 1349 tasking the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, farmer’s groups, local government units, and the private sector, to formulate a five-year Framework for Development focusing on developing malunggay for food, medicinal, health, and commercial needs,” Sen. Legarda said.

“Malunggay is one of the most useful tropical trees. The relative ease with which it propagates through both sexual and asexual means and its low demand for soil nutrients and water after being planted makes its production and management easy,” Legarda added.

“Malunggay’s young leaves are edible and are commonly cooked and eaten like spinach or used to make soups and salads. They are an exceptionally good source of provitamin A, vitamins B, and C, minerals (in particular iron), and the sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine,” the lady lawmaker also stressed.

She added the dry seeds can be ground to a powder and used for seasoning sauces. The roots from young plants can also be dried and ground for use as a hot seasoning base with a flavor similar to that of horseradish. The flowers can be eaten after being lightly blanched or raw as a tasty addition to salads.

“For industrial purposes, the oil content of de-hulled seed (kernel) of malunggay is approximately 42%. The oil is brilliant yellow. It is used as a lubricant for fine machinery such as timepieces because it has little tendency to deteriorate and become rancid and sticky,” Loren pointed out.

“Malunggay is also useful as a vegetable cooking oil. It is also known for its capacity to absorb and retain volatile substances and is therefore valuable in the perfume industry for stabilizing scents. The protein from the extracted malunggay oil is a natural polypeptide for sedimenting mineral particles and organics in the purification of drinking water, for cleaning vegetable oil, or for sedimenting fibers in the juice and beer industries,” Legarda explained.

“Malunggay when pressed can be used in the form of a foliar spray to accelerate the growth of young plants to be firmer, with larger fruit, and more resistant to pests and diseases.”

Loren also cited that at Biomasa, a Technical University based in Nicaragua, studies have been conducted using the seeds from malunggay for the final treatment in wastewater treatment units.

“To avoid eutrophication of rivers or lakes, the malunggay seeds can be used to coagulate algae and remove them by sedimentation. The algae recovered by sedimentation after drying and pulverization have a protein content of about 46 % and can be used as a protein supplement for cows, pigs, chickens and even shrimps thereby reducing the cost of feeding substantially. Up to 98 % of the algae can be removed by this treatment,” she added.

Legarda asserted that in the Philippines, aside from these benefits that can be derived from cultivating malunggay for agricultural and industrial purposes, studies have been made that bolster the use of malunggay for medicinal purposes.

“Malunggay leaves are good for headache, bleeding from a shallow cut, bacterial and fungal skin complaints, anti-inflammatory gastric ulcers and diarrhea, malnutrition. Malunggay pods are dewormers, good for treating liver and spleen problems, pain of the joints, and malnutrition. Likewise, malunggay seeds treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramp, STD, boils and urinary problems, and is a relaxant for epilepsy,” the lady lawmaker pointed out.

Legarda said malunggay seed producers can amass a net income of approximately P218,000 to P521,000 per hectare a year at P20 per kilogram of seeds if the malunggay trees are planted 2×2 or 3×3 meters apart.

“Malunggay leaves producers can expect an estimated income of P1.43 million per hectare a year at P5 per kg. of leaves. Overall, malunggay cultivation for commercial use can generate an estimated 10,000 jobs per 3,000 hectares for Filipinos,” she added.

“At present, there is a Biotechnology Information and Organization Network (BIONet) for Malunggay in Laguna, Quezon, Negros Oriental, CARAGA, Tarlac, CAR, Region 3 and Ilocos Region.”

“We need to activate more malunggay nurseries and repositories all over the country. Senate Bill 1350 tasks the Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the municipal government concerned, to identify the broad areas suitable for the planting and propagation of malunggay. “Continuous efforts linking growers with markets through contract to buy arrangements should be pursued,” Loren also explained.

“Along the same spirit, I laud the use of malunggay for government’s feeding and nutrition programs. “Malunggay can be the solution to many of our country’s problems. Malunggay feeds, oils, fertilizes, heals, purifies and can generate income. Let’s take malunggay seriously, “Legarda stressed.(PNA)

V3/rudyma

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