Pambansang Kongreso sa Katutubong Wika 2019)

Ang Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino sa pakikipagtulungan sa La Consolacion College Bacolod ay magsasagawa ng Pambansang Kongreso sa Katutubong Wika na gaganapin sa SMX Convention Center, Lungsod Bacolod, Negros Occidental mula 19–21 Agosto 2019.
Ang Kongreso ay tumutugon sa pagpapalaganap at pagpapaunlad ng wikang Filipino at mga katutubong wika. Ito ay magtatampok sa pangkalahatang estado ng mga katutubong wika sa Filipinas at sa halaga ng adyenda ng mabubuo sa pangangalaga nito. Ang tunguhing ito ay lubos na makatutulong sa pagpapataas ng kamalayan na unti-unting hihimok sa pakikisangkot sa pagpapasigla ng mga katutubong wika.
Layunin nitong maitampok ang halaga at pangkalahatang estado ng katutubong wika at matalakay ang mga paraan sa pagpapaunlad at pangangalaga pa lalo ng mga ito bilang mahalagang aspekto ng ating identidad bilang isang mamamayang Filipino. Magkakaroon ng talakayan hingil sa kahalagahan ng katutubong wika bilang pundasyon ng intangible cultural heritage at daluyan ng karunungang-bayan.
Bukas ang seminar na ito sa mga guro, mananaliksik, manunulat, mag-aaral, ahensiyang pamahalaan, organisasyong di-pampamahalaan o NGO, at sinumang may interes hinggil sa pag-aaral sa katutubong wika at sa mga paraang magpapatibay at magpapasigla sa mga ito bilang pundasyon ng intangible na pamanang kultura ng sambayanang Filipino.
*May 400 slot lamang kaya ‘first come, first serve’ ang panuntunan sa pagtanggap ng kalahok. 
Maagang pagrerehistro (early registration) PHP2,400.00Para sa Senior Citizen, PWD, at estudyante at maagang magpaparehistro PHP2,160.00Panahon ng maagang pagpaparehistro  22 Abril–19 Hulyo 2019Regular na rehistrasyon  PHP3,000.00*Senior Citizen at PWD*  PHP2,400.00* Estudyante (undergraduate) PHP2,400.00Panahon ng regular na rehistrasyon  20 Hulyo–19 Agosto 2019*Kailangang magpakita ng IDPagbabayad
1. Ideposito ang halaga sa:Pangalan ng Account: Komisyon sa Wikang FilipinoNumero ng Account: 1512-1036-30Bangko: Landbank of the PhilippinesBranch: Malacañang
2. Ipadala ang kopya ng deposit slip sa kwf.slak@gmail.com. Kung senior citizen, PWD, at estudyante, kasamang ipadala ang ID. Dalhin din ang deposit slip sa seminar.
3. Para sa regular na pagbabayad, maaaring sa unang araw ng kongreso o ideposito sa bankAccount ng KWF.
Para sa iba pang detalye, maaaring kontakin ang sumusunod:
Email: kwf.slak@gmail.comCellphone: 0927-685-6786 (Globe) / 0942-7365283 (Sun)Landline: (02) 252-1953

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Seagrass craft making flourishes in Camarines Sur by Rena S. Hermoso

From the plain-looking handwoven slippers to embroidered bags and embellished baskets, the seagrass craft making in San Fernando, Camarines Sur has upscaled into a full-blown home-based business industry enterprise providing additional income to rice farmers in the flood-prone areas.

According to the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 5-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC), the majority of the flood-prone rice producing areas were left fallowed thus additional costs on herbicides and labor are needed to remove various weeds and sedges that emerge after the fallow period. “In the project site, while many people use various weed species as forage for animals, ingenious farmers surprisingly explored promising potential uses of seagrass,” shared BIARC Manager Luz R. Marcelino. This shed light on the seagrass craft making, a promising income-generating opportunity for the farmers.

The project that started it all

Seagrass (Rynchospora corymbosa), locally-known as ragiwdiw and bankuan, is a perennial sedge that grows abundantly in flood-prone areas in Bicol. Dried stalks from seagrass are hand twined together to create the raw material for handicraft making—salapid. The salapid can be made into various products such as bags, slippers, hampers, and decorative items. According to Marcelino, the best characteristic of seagrass is its resistance to molds when stored for a longer period of time.

Thus, to further develop the seagrass enterprise, BIARC implemented the project, “Enterprise Development in Flood Prone Areas in Camarines Sur.” Funded by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project aimed to provide opportunities for rural employment, increase family income and empower communities through the development of agri-business enterprise. The goals of the project were to: 1) develop rice-based production systems within the framework of integrated farming systems approach; 2) identify researchable areas for optimized seagrass-based enterprise development; and, 3) develop a village-level handicraft production enterprise.

Ang masasabi ko lang po sa Bikolano farmers, they are very, very resourceful. They tied up with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) para magkaroon ng enhancement doon sa product nila,” according to Marcelino, project proponent. In coordination with DTI-Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines, farmer cooperators’ association were provided with skill and product development training and sponsored their participation in national trade fairs.

To support the associations’ full operation to meet the increasing demand of seagrass in the local handicraft industry, BAR extended institutional support through the provision of common service facilities and production equipment.

Marcelino also proudly shared, “[n]agpapasalamat din po ako sa mga San Fernando farmers because they were really innovative. They were really bent on improving their lives in terms of the resources of what [are] the resources na nandoon sa kanila.”

From simple products to elite fashion items

After the project has ended, BIARC continued their efforts in upscaling and expanding the seagrass craft industry in Camarines Sur. They tapped the creativity and entrepreneurial skills of Bernadette B. De Los Santos, owner of Bidibidi Enterprise, a social enterprise that combines fashion, arts and upcycling while providing livelihood to local women and out-of-school youth in Baao, Camarines Sur.

De Los Santos is part of the Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) project, a Philippine-Canadian brainchild that aimed to provide support for women to start businesses and obtain a better-paying job. This project is handled by DTI together with the Department of Science and Technology, DA, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Commission on Women, small and medium enterprises, and private sector representatives.

She shared, “I started hand embroidery on fabrics. But they were the ones who told me, ‘why don’t you try seagrass as baskets and bags, and use your art sa pag-e-embellish?” With BIARC (as it was scouting for area for expansion) suggestion, she started making bags and baskets using seagrass as a raw material and embellished them using other natural fibers such as raffia and abaca in 2017. The following year, DTI invited her to showcase her products at the Manila FAME, a biannual lifestyle and design trade show that aims to promote the Philippines as a reliable sourcing destination for high-quality home, fashion, holiday, architectural and interior pieces. Then, she participated in ArteFino Fair, the biggest artisan fair in the country. She proudly shared, “ako ang favorite, ang sales ko is more than half a million,” during the four-day event.

With the growing interest in sustainable fashion items, bags made from natural fibers such as seagrass would surely be a hit. In fact, she shared, “patok na patok iyan ngayon kasi may consciousness na ang mga tao, gusto nila good for the environment—fashionable ka na, good for the environment pa ang sinusuot mo.

After her participation at the ArteFino Fair, she has received invitations for interviews from various television networks to which she reacted, “I think it’s kinda phenomenal na from a mere grass, now it’s a high-end product; although it’s not original kasi marami namang gumawa ng baskets.”

An elite shopping center and Filipino culture shop have also shown interest in her products. She shared, “[a]ng sabi nga nila sa akin, akmang-akma itong paggawa ko kasi pukaw na ang Pilipino ngayon. They are starting to take pride in what they have.”

Her products have also garnered attention from personalities across the globe. Fashion icons such as actress Heart Evangelista, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, and international fashion designer Christian Louboutin have taken an interest with her world-class design and handicraft.

To keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the fashion industry, De Los Santos consulted BIARC on other natural fibers that can be used as raw materials for her products. She explained, “sa aking ginagawa ang naitulong talaga[ng research] is iyong kapag naghahanap ako ng ibang fiber. Sila naman ang kinokontak ko. Kasi gusto kong mag-infuse [ng ibang fiber]. We are into saluyot para i-incorporate namin. Kasi sa fashion mabilis silang magsawa, so kailangan mayroon kang bagong idea.”

The women behind this success

Before venturing into the handicraft industry, De Los Santos was a farmer. She said, “nagsimula ako as a farmer dito sa Baao, but of course, I have always been an artist ” In fact, she was awarded as the Most Outstanding Rural Woman in 2008.

Naisip ko lang to go to crafts because I observed na ang mga asawa ng farmers from the time they plant until the time they harvest walang ginagawaSo iyon ang naging trabaho ko rito sa amin, tinuruan ko [silang] magburda, ng kung anu-anong mga ginawa,” she shared.

She has been teaching women the necessary skills to make the bags such as basket weaving, embroidery, and crocheting. National agencies such as DA, DTI, and Department of Social Welfare and Development has tapped her to train more communities outside Baao. She explained, “nagturo kami via DA, nagturo kami sa mga nasalanta ng Mayon Volcano eruption. So may mga weavers kami sa Albay, lahat ng kailangan kong skill tinuturo naminPara after ng trainingsa kanila na kami kukuhamayroon kaagad silang income.”

“[My] goal is to empower these women by teaching them the skills and bring about the best in them, while allowing them to be mothers, wives, sisters, nurturing their families, their communities,” De Los Santos shared in her social media account.

At the bottom of this success, what matters most for De Los Santos is the number of lives she has touched. “This is a social enterprise. Ang gusto ko mas maraming makakagamit; kasi pag marami, marami rin ang magagawa nila. Ang profit margin is very minimal but it’s enough to keep the business going, so that’s fine,” ended De Los Santos. ###

Achieving quality coffee through postharvest technology system by Leoveliza C. Fontanil

Coffee is one important drink that Filipinos are familiar with. Studies have shown that today’s demand for coffee is increasing by 2.4 percent every year. It is projected to rise in the coming years, as more and more Filipinos drink coffee every day.

From being one of the top coffee exporters in the world, the Philippines has now become an importer to other countries.

To lessen the importation of coffee and potentially reclaim its former spot in the coffee industry, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is envisioning an increase of its coffee productivity and profitability. However, due to improper postharvest handling practices, the quality of coffee being produced does not meet the high-quality grade. Inept and poor handling practices of our local coffee farmers in harvesting coffee berries is one of the cited problems that cause low quality grade of our coffee bean.

Dr. Helen O. Martinez, supervising science research specialist of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), has been looking into various technology interventions on coffee ever since the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) assisted the funding of her coffee projects in 2015. The project titled, “Developed Postharvest Technologies and Business Model for Sustainable Coffee Processing Enterprise” tried to evaluate the different harvesting and postharvest handling methods of different coffee varieties achieving a good quality grade.

The results of her project were presented in a free, public seminar organized by BAR.

Through the project, Dr. Martinez developed a package of Post-Harvest Technology (PH system) of quality green and roasted beans for Arabica and Robusta varieties. The PH system is a new approach to coffee crop processing (wet method –washed, dry method-natural, pulped method-semi-washed) techniques. She likewise was able to establish business models for Community-Based Coffee Processing Enterprise also known as the “CBCPE Business Model”.

The CBCPE Business Model is a conducive protocol assembled by PhilMech for coffee farmers. Under the protocol, the members should sell dried coffee parchment or fresh berries to the processing center. The members and non-members patronize and avail services of the cooperative. The cooperative creates its own business management team to manage the coffee processing operation of the CBCPE. As a practical guide, the marketing of coffee beans and roasted coffee is integrated in the practice of e-marketing their coffee products which would create a competent business management team.

Dr. Martinez claimed the technical and socio-economic benefits of adopting the technology as it: 1) increase the percentage in the volume of coffee processed; 2) improve the quality of green coffee beans and roasted beans; 3) generate employment opportunities especially to rural women; 4) boost confidence of farmers to expand the market of their coffee products; and 5) encourage more coffee farmers to plant more coffee trees as it increases the demand.

At present, PhilMech is providing assistance to various cooperatives and associations including Talbak Coffee Growers Association in Trinidad, Bulacan, IMDALSA Agrarian Reform Cooperative in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and Mt. Apo Coffee Association in Pasay City.

The groups of coffee growers are included in 2017 top 10 local quality producer of Robusta and Arabica green coffee in the Philippines.

Dr. Martinez mentioned that PhilMech is in the process of transferring the technology on improved postharvest technologies system to its end-users and reaching for other possible adopters to establish more coffee enterprise in Philippines.

PhilMech has also developed information materials that they have incorporated along with the list of recommended specification of equipment for postharvest and processing of coffee per handling operation. ###

Safeguarding traditional rice varieties in the Ilocos region by Daryl Lou A. Battad

 Rice, the Philippines’ main crop and staple, has abounding varietal diversity that can be traced from the country’s rich heritage. However, in a constantly changing and modernizing of agriculture, traditional varieties are often put on the sidelines, and worse, eventually forgotten.

            Still, being a nation where identity and culture are kept alive, preservation efforts are being made so that traditional crop varieties can survive and may be passed on from one generation to the next. This is exactly what the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 1 envisions through a project on the conservation of traditional rice varieties in the region.

            Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), DA-RFO 1 – Ilocos Norte Research and Experiment Center (INREC) embarked on a project, “Collection, Characterization, and Seed Multiplication of Traditional Rice Varieties in Region 1.”

            The project aims to collect, characterize, evaluate potential varieties, and mass produce to provide available and good quality seeds to stakeholders such as rice growers and scientists for use on future researches.

            Studies showed that traditional rice varieties contain less fat versus hybrid rice, making them an excellent source of minerals and vitamins such as niacin, thiamine, iron, riboflavin, vitamin D. It is also known to possess high amounts of fiber and lesser sugar. Aside from these health benefits, traditional rice varieties carry exceptional characteristics like resistance to pests and diseases, high-yielding capability, and are genetically engineered to serve as building blocks for new varieties.

            Project leader and INREC Center Chief Wilma Ibea said that the conservation and profiling of these traditional varieties reinforce genetic improvement leading to the development of new and better varieties.

Collection and characterization

            Seventy-one traditional rice varieties were collected from different municipalities of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan. These collected varieties were then planted in the experimental farm at INREC, Batac, Ilocos Norte during wet seasons of cropping years from 2014-2017.

            Growth cycle traits, vegetative properties and reproductive traits before and after harvest were the primary data gathered during characterization following the “Descriptors for Wild and Cultivated Rice” by Bioversity International, International Rice Research Institute; and The Africa Rice Center.

            It was observed that all traditional rice varieties have the same population uniformity, life cycle, coleoptile anthocyanin coloration, lemma shape of apiculus, sterile lemma length and color, and spikelet fertility.

            Traditional rice varieties were also perceived to be tall, has awn present on some varieties, and late maturing of up to 146 days.

However, out of the 71 varieties, only 53 were able to survive and categorized because some of them did not adapt locally, and some were prone to “rice blast” disease.

Isik pugot

            Isik pugot is a traditional rice variety that came out to be the most promising variety. It produced the most number of productive tillers, produced the heaviest weight of 1000 seed grains at 36 grams, and the highest yield of 4.30 tons per hectare. According to Ibea, this variety can be recommended for use by farmers especially in rainfed and lowland areas.

            Other promising varieties include Kamurus rice, Gal-ongMakandaras, and Black rice. These were drought-tolerant and need a lesser amount of fertilizers, aside from their good eating qualities and nutritional content.

            To date, there are nine farmers and 12 local government units (LGUs) who adopted and are continuously planting traditional rice varieties that came out of this project. Each farmer was provided with 40 kilograms of seeds while the LGUs were given 350 kilograms each. These seeds were being used as planting materials to continuously conserve these existing and promising traditional varieties that can be the region’s pride and heritage. ###

Protocol for organic okra production developed by Patrick Raymund A. Lesaca

Okra, (Hibiscus esculentus) also known as lady’s finger, is an important vegetable crop in the country. Its demand is increasing mainly due to food and medicinal uses, and non-food essentials.

Beside the local market, okra is grown as a fresh and frozen export product to Japan.  And for the last twenty years, the okra intended for the Japanese market is roughly grown in a 200-hectare farmland in the province of Tarlac. The export market has significantly contributed to the economy of the province.

The production of okra must be addressed to continually meet the local and export demands.

However, one impediment that is affecting its production is leafhopper (Amarasca biguttula) and other associated pests including Spodoptera litura. The pest can cause heavy damage to the crop, and if left unattended, can reach 100 percent loss.

Countermeasures against A. biguttula have been employed by the farmers. Synthetic pesticides are widely used for the control of leafhopperand other insect pests. Application of pesticides is often the most effective management against pest and diseases commonly practiced by the farmers. However, resurgence and detected resistance to leafhopperbecame a problem caused by chemical calendar spraying practiced by farmer-growers. Likewise, the alarming increase of toxic chemicals used to manage pest and diseases on farms, animals, and plants has endangered the environment and reduced biodiversity as well as the health of the consumers.

Threat to okra production and its remedy

To address the situation, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) funded and supported a research project, “Pest Management Strategies Development for Organic Okra Production in the Province of Tarlac for Local and Export Demand” implemented by the Tarlac Agricultural University (TAU).

The project aimed to promote pest management strategies and develop an organic protocol to produce organically-grown okra in the province.

The pesticidal properties of many plants have been known for and have been commonly used in pest control. According to Jo-Anne Lynne Joy E. Duque, project leader, an organic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocol should be developed for the production of organically-grown okra, or chemical-residue free, as a quality assurance for local and export demand. Dr. Manuelo Agsaoay (former project leader) advocated the bright prospect in the use of biopesticides as an important alternative to synthetic chemicals.  

Based on numerous research studies, there are more than 2,000 plant species which claimed to possess pesticidal activities. Among the identified plant extracts which can be formulated as biopesticides were: sambong (Blumea balsamifera), Ageratum weed, and pummelo (citrus) leaves.

Ms. Duque said that part of the research experiment is blending and purifying the selected bioactive plant extracts. Once blended and purified, the extracts will be processed into a wettable powder (WP) formulation for the farmers’ use. The formulated product will then be evaluated for field efficiency trials (on-farm) of the grower-exporters of okra in the province.   

Project’s significant findings

            Various efficacy trials using the pummelo and sambong WP leaf extracts were done by determining its effects on the insect pests under laboratory and field trials.

            Based on bioassay trials conducted against leafhopper, the formulated pummelo WP showed the highest mortality against leafhopper with the application of 60 grams per liter. In field conditions, the formulation was found effective, and is indeed a potential biopesticide. The results confirmed the findings that pummelo extract is toxic to leafhopperhence causing a high reduction population. The product persists at 3-6 days after application in the field, further increasing its effectivity against leafhoppers. Likewise, the sambong WP exhibited positive response in terms of mortality of S. litura(common cutworm), with mortality ranges from 40 to 60 percent. The team of Ms. Duque will still replicate the experiments to make it more conclusive.   

            Part of the organic protocol developed by the project proponent was the production of the Control Decision Guide Strategies, which will be demonstrated to farmer-growers and other stakeholders.  The protocol will serve as a guide to okra farmers, both for local and exports, not only for the province of Tarlac, but for the rest of the okra growers in the country as well.  ### 

Beefing up Siquijor’s healthy beef by Rita T. dela Cruz

Siquijor, a tiny island province known for its mysterious and bewitching tourist attractions, is yet to be famed for another of its best and finest product — Siquijor beef.

Nestled between the Visayas and Mindanao group of islands, Siquijor ranks second among the highest cattle producing provinces in the country, next to Ilocos Norte.

The native cattle strain in Siquijor is the taurine type (Bos taurus) known to have genes for marbling making it competitive with the rest of the best beef cattle in the world. Marbling is the white flecks and streaks of fat within the lean sections of meat. The degree of marbling is the primary determinant of quality grade in beef. Marbling has a beneficial effect on the juiciness and flavor of beef as it keeps the beef moist and succulent.

Bos taurus is a grass-fed type of cattle. Hence, the meat is lean and tender and has moderately full flavor. This native cattle strain is suitable for Siquijor’s weather condition because it can tolerate the heat and it needs little water requirement. It can also easily adapt to the environment. This is also the reason why this breed is preferred by the majority of the farmers in Siquijor. This native breed is also known to produce quality milk.

And because Bos taurus is a grass-fed cattle, Siquijor’s locally-produced beef is considered a healthy beef. With the promising potential of the native strain, it is important to enrich the cattle production and meat processing industry to help the breeders raise their income, and provide an opportunity for Siquijor to export its quality meat globally.

R&D project on Siquijor beef production

In Siquijor, the cattle industry is hounded mainly by two aspects: production and marketing. A major constraint in production is affected by the dry season in Siquijor resulting in limited water supply, limited food supply, and excessive heat that can affect cattle raising. The natural climatic condition and sloping topography of Siquijor greatly affect the feeding practice of farmers, especially during the dry season. In terms of marketing, one major challenge is the unfair pricing of traders due to lack of price standard.

Dr. Agapita Salces of the Institute of Animal Science, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), conducted a study that will not only address these challenges in production and marketing but more importantly, will commercialize the production of Siquijor beef as a healthy meat.

The UPLB-led project, “Commercialization of Philippine Native Cattle for Optimum Production of Siquijor Beef” is being funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research through its National Technology Commercialization Program. Specifically, the project will develop native beef grading standard, native beef cuts, and beef products and by-products.

In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 7 and the Province of Siquijor – Provincial Veterinary Office, the project is employing various science-based interventions including data collection of animal performance, development of software for small hold native cattle production, planting of forage trees and legumes, and meat processing and product development.

Profitability of cattle raising

Results of the socio-demographic analysis conducted by the group of Dr. Salces showed that an average cattle farmer in Siquijor has three cattle per farm being raised in a land he owns through inheritance. The rate of technology adoption of cattle raisers in Siquijor is high due to the various support provided by the provincial government.

In the profitability analysis of the project, results showed that the investment cost for setting up a cattle enterprise will cost Php 22, 555. 51. This comprised of cattle house, feeding, breeding stock (two young cattle one male and one female), farm tools (drum, containers, pail, and scythe). However, if the cost of land will be included the total investment cost is Php 101,703.65.

The three-cattle operation in Siquijor is considered successful in increasing the income of the farmer. In terms of net income, results showed that a farmer could expect at least Php1,000 increase monthly when he chooses to engage in the cow-calf operation in Siquijor.

A general assessment of the results showed that good cultural management practices employed by the raisers could not be translated into profit until problems in marketing are resolved. This is attributed to the lack of price standard in Siquijor.

Product development and marketing

One of the interventions of the project was meat processing and product development through the conduct of training. One of the beneficiaries of the project was the Catulayan Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative wherein members were taught how to process and add value to their beef products. In 2017, 33 members of the Cooperative underwent the training in Siquijor. Dr. Maria Cynthia Oliveros, the project study leader, demonstrated how to process beef tapa, corned beef, burger patties, and beef floss.

Meat processing was introduced to the members to increase their income and to promote the quality of native Siquijor beef. They were also taught how to look at fresh meat including the physical and chemical properties of meat to ensure its quality, tenderness of the meat during processing and storage, and even the correct meat cut. Another aspect of the training was teaching them about meat spoilage and proper handling to maintain food safety and avoid food poisoning.

Aside from meat processing, 11 members of the Cooperative also underwent slaughter and beef fabrication training. They were exposed to existing beef grading standards and beef cuts. Leading the training were Dr. Oliveros and Dr. Salces.

The various meat products were exhibited during the 14th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition held on August 30-September 2, 2019 at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong. ### 

Indigenous plants: Safe alternative to artificial food color by Rita T. dela Cruz

Color plays an important role in our food preference. It can predetermine how we perceive the taste and flavor of what we’re about to eat. In fresh foods, we rely on the color to determine their level of ripeness or freshness. For processed food, it becomes a whole different topic. When food undergoes processing, it loses its naturally vibrant color, thus the need for artificial color additives or food coloring.

Artificial coloring makes any food product more delectable and mouth-watering. Unfortunately, some of them are actually harmful to the body. Although some claims are still to be validated and are subjected to debates, they can be toxic and carcinogenic.

To address this, researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) led by Lourdes B. Cardenas of the Institute of Biological Sciences, conducted a study with the hope of providing the public a healthy and safe alternative to artificial food coloring using indigenous plants. The study, “Biotechnology in the Utilization of Natural Colors from Indigenous Plants,” which was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research, aimed to identify indigenous plants with health benefitting natural colors and develop technologies using them.

The study screened over 20 indigenous plant species among them included: alugbatilipoteduhat, 4 o’ clock,gumamela, roselle, butterfly pea, pandan, turmeric, barberry, kamantigi, begonia, mayana leaf, bougainvilla, talinum, oxalis, impatients, portulaca, nasturtium, and bell pepper.

These indigenous plants were screened using the following criteria: 1) toxicity, 2) tinctorial strength (potency of the pigment) but with minimal or without imparting any flavor or aroma, 3) availability of the raw materials and ease of handling, 4) mutagenicity (capacity to induce mutations), and 5) stability of the pigment under different pH, temperature, and light regimen. Also considered in choosing the plant pigment as food colorant are: solubility in water, and demand of a particular color in the market.

As potential food colorants, the researchers included plant species with Anthocyanins and Betalains, these are plant pigments that are water soluble. Carotenoids were not included in the study as these pigments are not water soluble and are sensitive to light.

Meanwhile, the researchers included Curcuminoids (not water soluble), which can be found in turmeric, because it was found to be the best alternative natural colorant to Tartrazine (synthetic lemon yellow azo dye primarily used as a food coloring).

To get the results, the colorants were tested under different types of food preparation: fresh, steamed, boiled, and baked. They prepared salad using the begonia, and ice cones or scramble with a whole extract from lipote, turmeric, and butterfly pea directly poured on top of the shaved ice. A fondant was made using the lipote, 4 o’clock, and butterfly pea color extracts; and gelatins, putosuman, butter cookies, scones, and chocolates using the color extracts from alugbati,lipote, turmeric, butterfly pea, and 4 o’clock. The extracted natural pigments were also put inside microcapsules for stability.

Results of the study showed that among the plant species tested, the best sources of red colorant are: alugbati (Basella rubra L.), lipote (Syzygium curranii), and red 4 o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa L.). Meanwhile, the best source for yellow pigment is turmeric (Curcuma domestica (L.); for blue pigment it is butterfly pea (Clitorea ternatea var. pleniflora); and for green pigment it is pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb).

Duhat (Syzygium cumini), red gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.), and roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) were dropped from the list due to factors involving toxicity, stability of pigment, availability of raw materials, and difficulty in extraction of pigment, among others.

The researchers noted that not all pigments from the plant species can be processed into colorants due to low tinctorial strength, and fragility, among others. But even so, these can still be used as colorants for freshly-picked ingredients to dishes that include the begonia, talinum, oxalis, impatiens, portulaca, and nasturtium.

As a final product, the project was able to develop natural colorants in the form of freeze-dried whole extracts, microcapsules, gelatin bars, and glycerine solutions.

With the health benefitting natural colors that these indigenous plants can provide, these natural colorants are a better option than the synthetic counterparts. It not only improves the quality of our food, it also enables us to utilize these indigenous plants which are readily available and easily harvested from our gardens.