maandag 22 december 2008

Department of Agriculture and Miracle Tree

The government has introduced a biotechnology program for the miracle plant malunggay in Surigao City to commercialize the indigenous plant that can be processed into a pharmaceutical and industrial product.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur C. Yap led the distribution of vegetable seeds and seedlings a the St. Paul University gymnasium in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, signaling DA s support for the commercialization program.

DA also co-launched the Social Action Network Joint Program on Sustainable Agriculture together with the seedling distribution in an ultimate aim to promote organic farming or reduced use of environmentally-harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

The malunggay propagation program is expected to take off on a commercial scale a DA has singled out malunggay as the main crop under its program “One House, One Vegetable (OHOV).

OHOV, evidently adapted from the Department of Trade and Industrys One Town One Product (OTOP) program, is part of a poverty alleviation and malnutrition elimination effort specially among women and children in poor Caraga regions.

Malunggay can be used to fortify noodles, soup or bread with vitamins and minerals of the nutritious vegetables. Malunggays seeds can produce all-purpose-oil and can be used by industries for products like soap, shampoo, lotion and other personal health care products.

With adequate research, it can also be an alternative source of biofuel. As feed, the leaf and cake of the malunggay fruit or sepal can also be used as animal feed for goat, pig, cattle, chicken and ducks.

Malunggay production also has an intended market even as Monde Nissin or even San Miguel Corp. may become interested in processing the crop.

DA hopes the OHOV will encourage households to plant vegetables and put up their own backyard livestock enterprises (with goats and pigs) that will make available for them a ready food source while any excess may be channeled to the market.

DA has distributed a total of 53,500 malunggay seedlings to a total of 18,680 families or three seedlings per family at Caraga Region (Suriga and Agusan provinces and Butuan).

Identified as one of the poorest regions that have high malnutrition rate in the entire Philippines, Butuan will be benefited by programs to make malunggay a processed good as this can be used as ingredient for treating deficiency in iron and other nutrients like calcium.

The crop also easily and naturally grows everywhere in the country.

“A vegetable tree often ignored by the people, it will help boost government effort to fight hunger and poverty, as well as chronic malnutrition suffered by millions of millions of Filipinos, especially women and children,” DA said.

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