Malunggay pods commands more than seeds

CABUGAO, Ilocos Sur — Ilocos farmers claim malunggay pods for food commands a higher price in the local market and said the would rather sell it for food despite offers for supplying seeds to a local biodiesel venture.


Apolonio Solima and his malunggay tree, a 33-year partnership. Photo courtesy of Biolife News Service

Cabugao Municipal Treasurer Lourdes Azcueta. And her husband, former administrator Carmelo Azcueta, concentrated on malunggay production and are happy with the financial returns of their venture.

With 500 malunggay trees, the Azcuetas harvest at least 4,000 pods a week that sells for P1 or P2 each. “It really helps. Imagine, a local government employee, municipal treasurer, earning more from malunggay,” Lourdes said.

Lucrative

Seeing the viability of malunggay cultivation, Mr. Azcueta resigned from his job to manage the couple’s farm.

The Ascuetas hired people to manage the farm, keep it clean and harvest the pods. The income from selling malunggay pods also helps them pay all of their laborers.

Apolonio Solima, another Cabugao farm-owner, also planted his 1.5-hectare farm with malunggay and it financed the education of his seven children.

In a week, Solima sells 10,000 pods of malunggay at P1 each. His farm supplies malunggay pods to Isabela, Cagayan, Urdaneta City in Pangasinan and other Ilocos Norte towns.

Ilocos Sur farmers harvest malunggay from December to July, and this caught the attention of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the private Filipino biotechnology company Secura. BPI initially thought malunggay can only be harvested twice a year.

The Azcuetas and Solima said they were surprised during a visit recently by representatives from Secura when they were told that malunggay now also has a market for biodiesel abroad. Moringa oil, extracted from malunggay seeds, is one of the most viable commercial byproducts of malunggay today, according to a study.

Local businessmen are now buying malunggay seeds at P10 per kilo. The farmers, however, are till negotiating the price since amalunggay tree which yields 1,000 pods only produces five kilos of seeds.

Carmelo said he would not exchange his P1,000 for 1,000 malunggay pods for only P50 for five kilos of malunggay seeds.

According to Secura President Danilo Manayaga unlike other alternative biodiesel crops, there would not be any conflict with malunggay for food and biodiesel since only the seeds will be used for biodiesel. # Biolife News Service

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