This is the first in Philippine history of agriculture and business: An OFW in Australia discovered this wild raspberry- sweet, sour and bitter – to have phytochemicals that may prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
This Philippine wild raspberry “Sapinit” processed into juice, jam, and wine has broken through in the market with its unique taste and richness in leucoanthocyanin, anti-Alzheimer’s, and anti-cancer phytochemical content.
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) has seen an initial success in its P1.55 million-funded project that has sent the market craving for Sapinit food products.
“They come looking back again and again for our juice in our promo booth because of its distinct taste. Children especially like them,” said Anniewenda Reyes, municipal agriculturist of Dolores, Quezon, BAR’s partner local government unit (LGU).
The processing facility in Tiaong only has a capacity now of processing 100 kilos of raw fruit per day. But its impact is added livelihood and income to 18 women members of the Bangkong Kahoy RIC and some 20 members of the Bangkong Kahoy 4H club, along with the economic benefits to their families.
Products like Sapinit that are unique to the Philippines, particularly to the wilds of Mt. Banahaw in Quezon and Laguna, really need a big boost in research and marketing support from the government, according to Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director.
“You can’t find Sapinit anywhere as much as you find them thriving in our wilds even without a delicate need for nurture and care. They are protectors of our environment,” said Eleazar.
Other funders of the project are the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council and Japan’s KR2 Program.
Sapinit has a bright potential as a specialty product as its price in the market is high. Farmers can sell it fresh in the San Pablo City wet market at P300 per kilo. However, shelf life of fresh fruits is only three-four days.
That is where processing comes in. Sapinit juice is sold at P35 per 350 milliliters (ml), P85 for 250 ml jam, and P300 for 350 ml wine.
The preparation into a delicious juice, jam, and even wine is part of BAR’s project with the Quezon Agricultural Experimental Station (QAES). Sapinit is also processed into vinaigrette for salad dressing by a proprietor in one Quezon resort. Tea is another potential product from the leaves.
“Sapinit has a very important role in uplifting the livelihood of communities because without it, they just depend on cash crops,” said Dennis Bihis, QAES researcher.
One kilo of raw Sapinit may be turned into four bottles of jam or four bottles of juice. The same one kilo may also be processed into five 350 ml wine.
The main market for the processed Sapinit is the beach tourists of Quezon and the pilgrimage and mountain climbing guests of Mt. Banahaw. Dolores Development Cooperative and the Bangkong Kahoy RIC keep stores where Sapinit products are sold.
The BAR program also funded a phytochemical analysis of Sapinit by the Industrial Technology Development Institute and the University of the Philippines Los Banos-Biotech.
This has shown the presence of anti-cancer phytochemicals including leucoanthocyanins, anthraquinones, saponins, deoxysugars, free fatty acids, hydrolysable tannins (inhibitors of HIV duplication), unsaturated steroids, and benzopyrone nucleus.
An important function of anthraquinones is it inhibits formation of Tau aggregates and dissolve paired helical filaments thought to be critical to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
With anthraquinones, Sapinit also gets an industrial use potential. Anthraquinones is a precursor to synthetic dyes, an additive in paper pulp making, and is a material for hydrogen peroxide.
Leucoanthocyanin is a flavonoid found in many plants including berries which are potential modifiers of carcinogens. Moreover, some saponins have been shown to very significantly augment the cytotoxicity of immunotoxins and other targeted toxins directed against human cancer cells.
The Department of Science and Technology also carried out microbial analysis, preparation of nutrition facts, and packaging as funded by the BAR-QAES project.
Many investors, including candy manufacturers that seek raw materials for flavoring, have expressed interest in putting money into Sapinit. But QAES is carefully working first on the needed research before signing more memoranda of agreement.
“There were many who are interested in participating. But before receiving them, we want to ensure that the pioneering community who ventured into Sapinit growing be benefitted first,” said Bihis.
Sapinit is a shrub that has prickly stem, thereby identifying it with the rose family and making it a raspberry rather than a strawberry. It reaches to a height of six feet and grows in a higher elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet above sea level. Its fruit has bright red-orange color that accounts for its phytochemical richness. It has sweet-sour-bitter taste that makes for its uniqueness.
In the wilds, its yield is just 800 kilos per hectare. With the technology introduced by QAES, yield may increase to 1,000 kilos to 6,000 per hectare, depending on the level of organic fertilizer applied.
Field studies show that yield increased to as much as 6,103 kilos at a fertilizer treatment of 1,000 kilos. The field that was not fertilized at all gave only 856 kilos per hectare.
Another technology that was introduced is maintaining a planting distance of 1.5 meters in between rows and 0.5 meters in between hills.
Farmers here are already somehow familiar with the use of organic fertilizers since it is seven kilometers away from the poblacion, the town proper, where organic fertilization is practiced.
While prospects for expansion arising from market demand is high, the limitation on production of Sapinit is still a problem.
However, the package of technology (POT) has so far already stretched the harvesting and processing period from only three months (November to January) to six months– from October to March of the following year.
Interestingly, Sapinit was not infested by any pest or disease during the conduct of the QAES evaluation. Sapinit is propagated both through suckers and cuttings.
The potential expansion area in the Mt. Banahaw covers 30 hectares. At present, Sapinit is only planted with technology intervention in two hectares—one in Dolores, Quezon, and one in Lucban, Quezon.
But expansion may be in Sariaya, Tayabas and Lucban in Quezon and Majayjay and Luisiana in Laguna. The fruit’s planting presently supplements farmers’ growing of pinakbet (ampalaya, squash, string beans) and chopsuey (sayote, carrots, Baguio beans) vegetables.
The expansion should further enhance livelihood opportunities for the natives.
“Because of their growing of Sapinit, the community has become united because they begin to realize they can do something for the community,” said Rolando Cuasay, QAES officer-in-charge.
Upon the initial discovery of Sapinit by a Filipino OFW in Australia, Dionisio Pullan, together with the natives of Mt. Banahaw, QAES established in March 2009 a 1,000 square meter technology demonstration site. The first harvest was made in December 2009.
Expansion of Sapinit may even extend beyond Quezon as this wild raspberry is widely distributed in open secondary forests from Luzon to Mindanao at low to medium altitude. This is for as long as there is abundant soil moisture.
Sapinit is considered a plant useful for environmental sustainability as it does not need continuous cultivation, and it can live for many years. This way, it retains soil fertility.
Source: Bureau of Agricultural Research
Picture: From AgriPinoy
A UV ray-emitting light trap that controls agricultural pests has substantially cut expensive chemical spraying among Ilocos farmers, raising their farm yield, and benefitting the environment with its organic farming-harmonized practice.
The Department of Agriculture’s Ilocos Region Integrated Agricultural Research Center (RIARC) is encouraging farmers’ use of this light trap that has a unique ultra violet (UV) ray wavelength specifically targeted at controlling farm insect pests.
This is more useful in farms than the popular UV lamp in homes that are only intended to ward off mosquitoes and larvae flies.
“This is very cost-effective, and it’s good for the environment because it doesn’t dispose of any harmful residue. Before, farmers thought this light trap is only for monitoring pests. But now they’re finding it effective for pest control,” said Dr. Aida D. Solsoloy, Scientist II at the DA’s Ilocos RIARC.
Agriculture and environment experts have been trying to find alternatives to the use of harmful chemicals to control pest. This is because chemical sprays have been historically linked with occupational hazards or many of farmers’ illnesses.
Chemical sprays are also blamed for environmental contamination, insect resurgence and insect resistance while productivity remains low due to chemicals’ improper use.
The light trap has been successful in raising yield in rice, corn, tomato, eggplant, watermelon, bell pepper, onion, pole sitao, ampalaya, and garlic, a Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR)-funded study showed.
In specific trial locations in Ilocos Region, highest net monetary benefit was observed at P96,713 for a yield increase of 11.9 metric tons (MT) per hectare in tomato in Piddig, Ilocos Norte; P61,013 for an increase of 7.5 MT per hectare for tomato in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; and P45,313 attributed to a 6.4 MT per hectare increase in rice in Bangar, La Union.
Farmers’ inability to carry out Insect Pest Management (IPM) has been one of the reasons for the low productivity in small farms.
“We have to keep on finding means to help farmers adopt a pest management system that they will find easy to implement and one that’s economically viable. This will increase their yield and raise their farms’ global competitiveness,” said Dr Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director.
The light trap has successfully reduced harmful chemical spraying.
“The light trap showcased on rice, corn, and vegetables at various towns for two croppings indicated extensive insect pest collection and a marked reduction in frequency of chemical spraying by 35 to 100 percent,” Solsoloy said.
In San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte where farmers used to spray 11 times for eggplant, spraying has been totally eliminated. This makes the light trap compatible with organic agriculture and IPM.
While the device is presently imported from China, it is possible to fabricate or assemble it locally. The casing has once been fabricated locally under Ilocos-RIARC’s supervision while the bulb, which is patented for its lighting technology, was imported from China.
Local government units (LGU) have initially supported Ilocos RIARC in linking farmers to BAR’s project. LGUs have also worked with agricultural technicians on its use.
While there are fears of the UV light’s harm to human, the light trap’s strict use only for night time opens minimal exposure of human to the device.
To help farmers acquire the device, DA or the national government may grant farmers a loan or a subsidy program for the trap. It costs P9,500 in the market.
This may not be affordable for the common farmer that only has 5,000 square meters to tend. But farmers’ cooperatives that form an area of two to four hectares may readily take advantage of its financial benefits. Over four years, it costs only P2.375 per year.
Farmers are still finding this expensive compared to the P250 to P300 per bottle or pack for insecticides. Besides, they are not culturally exposed to using this. But the benefits are immense given an extension work on it.
In a study of actual cost and return on mango production in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, cost of materials input in a 0.2 hectare farm with light trap was lower by 17.6 percent at P23,900 compared to P28,100 in a two-hectare farm without light trap.
Mango yield was significantly higher at 2.1 MT compared to 1.275 MT per hectare in those without the trap.
This resulted in a net income of P33,200, substantially higher by around six times compared to P5,700 without the trap.
Just like popular household insect-killing lamps, the light trap also has a high voltage wire that kills insects as they pass through it.
Despite killing insect pests, the Ilocos RIARC observed that the lamp does not have major injury on insects that are natural enemies of pests. This way, it supports biological control of insect pests.
The study funded by BAR from 2008 to 2010 involved 13 sites in Ilocos Norte; nine sites in Ilocos Sur; four sites in La Union, and five sites in Pangasinan.
Farmers also had a high perception of effectiveness of the device and have expressed “extreme” to “moderate” willingness to buy it.
Among the pests effectively controlled by the light trap is the cecid fly that causes black sunken skin lesions on mango; leafhoppers that pester inflorescence in mango; and twig borers and tip borer in rice and corn.