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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Formerly Ignored Moringa now source of Foreign exchange for Philippines

CLARK FREEPORT—A consultant of the Pampanga State Agricultural University on agricultural crop propagation and animal husbandry says the generally ignored moringa is becoming to be an important source of foreign-exchange earnings for the country.

A growing number of entrepreneurs have gone into the processing of malunggay leaves into powder form to supply the requirements of foreign-based manufacturers and exporters of food supplements and health products, according to Ed Araral.

In an interaction with members of the media here, Araral noted that Philippine-made malunggay powder shipped abroad is imported into the country as food supplements in capsule form and sold at an average price of P8.50 per capsule.

He said he finds this ironic as local processors could produce the same product cheaper and sell the same for only P1 a piece or P7.50 lower than the repacked item abroad owing to the fact that moringa is abundant in the country.
Other malunggay-based products, like butter processed abroad from the vegetable’s seeds, is marketed locally in high-end outlets and unaffordable to ordinary Filipino consumers.
“It is for this reason why I am pushing for two initiatives that urge state action to spur the growth of the malunggay-processing industry, as well as encourage the wider cultivation of malunggay trees and the consumption of products derived from this source of the now widely recognized super food,” Araral said.
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He cited as an example that the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration adopt a policy that will hasten the accreditation of locally made moringa food supplement and health products.
This lack of policy has both hampered the growth of the local moringa industry for medical and food supplements and put it at a disadvantage vis-a-vis its foreign competitors, according to Araral.
However, he failed to provide hard data as to the size of this sector in terms of volume output and export, the number of entities engaged in this business, as well as the number of workers employed by the industry.

Araral is also asking the Department of Education to require all primary and secondary students to plant at least three moringa trees.
The moringa tree is very easy to propagate with very little amount of water, according to Araral.
He also wants education officials to encourage the consumption of processed products of malunggay
(kalamungge in Capampangan) claiming that the vegetable yields essential amino acids.
Its leaves are the most nutritious part of the tree and are widely used in salads, curries and chutneys, for instance, in India and in the Philippines, Araral said. 
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