The country’s ‘superfood’

THE once lowly camote should now be perceived as “superfood” and a source of income instead of being associated with poverty and being slow-brained or being left behind.

This was the gist of Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, acting Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), in his keynote message during the Sweetpotato Farms and Industry Encounters through the S&T Agenda (FIESTA).

It was held at the Bureau of Water and Soils Management compound in Quezon City very recently.

Speaking before farmers and researchers, Ebora encouraged everyone to work together in order to improve the perception of camote in the country.

According to Ebora, camote or sweetpotato is now being coined as the “superfood” for the Filipino due to its nutrient content.

Since the 70s, PCAARRD has been conducting research on sweetpotato, where the Council supported the National Rootcrop Program of the Visayas State University (VSU).

In 2015, PCAARRD even launched the Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) for Sweetpotato with the project dubbed “S&T-based Sweetpotato Value Chain Development for Food in Tarlac, Albay, Leyte, and Samar” as its pilot program.

Ebora said that at present, the accomplishments include the development and enhancement of 22 food microenterprises and the introduction of six new sweetpotato hybrids that promise increased yield.

He also cited the output of the program, the collaboration of VSU-Philippine Rootcrops Research and Training Center (VSU-PhilRootcrops), Max’s chain of restaurants, and Nutri-pros, a private food business entity leading a farmers’ group in 2016.

First of its kind, at least three PCAARRD consortia: Central Luzon Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (CLAARRDEC); Visayas Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Program (ViCARP); and the Bicol Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (BCAARRD) joined forces to further the sweetpotato industry in the national level.

With the theme “Kamote: Kalusugan at Yaman para sa Bayan,” the two-day Sweetpotato FIESTA convened sweetpotato farmers and micro-entrepreneurs in a bid to promote the use of sweetpotato as a nutrient-rich food industry resource and as a food resource more amenable to food and community resiliency, as well as climate-smart supply base.

The FIESTA featured sweetpotato products commercialized by 20 micro-enterprise groups from Central Luzon, Albay, Leyte, and Samar, and live specimen exhibit of high-yielding varieties, quality planting materials, good agricultural practices (GAP), and zero-waste processing system. The highlight of the FIESTA included the Farmer-Industry Encounter wherein farmers, industry, trader representatives, researchers/development workers, and stakeholders have an opportunity to take a look at the various sweet potato innovations.

This specific activity is expected to stimulate investments and encourage collaborative partnerships that may help develop the sweetpotato industry.

Other activities also included product demonstration, sweetpotato processing, and an actual cooking demonstration which was conducted by celebrity chef Boy Logro, which added festivity to the event.

FIESTA is an event-based technology promotion and transfer modality initiated by PCAARRD to enhance the transfer of technology from research to their intended beneficiaries./PN


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