Oct 26, 2008

Cassava, malungay: Reserve food for nutrition feeding of Filipinos

PHILIPPINES PIA Daily News Reader 25 Oct. 2008

Tacloban City (October 25) -- In the face of the ever present threat of world hunger and climate change, the Filipinos can be consoled that there are reserve food for nutrition feeding of Filipinos. These are the cassava and moringa or what is known as malungay to most.

The Philippines is visited by an average of 26 typhoons each year. Natural and man made disasters including conflicts hit the Filipinos most who are in the countryside. Almost always, reserved food is needed. It should be food that is nutritious, palatable, easy logistically speaking, economical, available and sustainable. All of these has been achieved through the specially developed reserved food made of cassava, malunggay, and many others.

Ms. Lourdes Montevirgen, a food scientist from the Department of Science and Technology made a presentation on reserve food for Filipinos in one meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines.

Ms. Montevirgen said that cassava is a crisis crop. It is staple food for more than 500 million people. In times of war, drought or low national income, consumption increases relative to alternate food staples like maize, rice, wheat.

Cassava, Ms. Montevigen added, can remain in the ground for up to 3 years prior to harvest thus providing an easily maintained food reserve. It adapts to a wide range of growing conditions, soil types and fertility levels. It is able to yield on soils of extremely low fertility and is often grown where other crops have failed.

Cassava should be promoted as an important staple food which can spur rural industrial development, increase local work opportunities, and raise income of producers, processors and traders.

Products with good market potentials must be promoted like cassava flour, prepared foods snacks, cooked leaves, boiled fresh roots, animal feed, alcohol for chemical industries, glue, starches for strong textiles and paper, and industrial sweeteners. It should broaden the recognition of cassava in its important role of providing food security. It is the primary reserve food in times of calamities.

On the other hand, Moringa or Malungay is the world's most valuable plant. It is a powerful tool to combat global malnutrition. It is called the miracle vegetable since it contains all essential amino acids to build strong and healthy bodies which are rare for a plant source.

Ms. Montevirgen said that Reserve Food for disaster management is necessary because in times of disaster, more often than not there will be no access to food for days and even weeks. Basic services (like water, gas, electricity, communications, transportation, etc.) may be cut off, and perishable food will not last.

Reserve food provides nutrition and security. It will also help economic growth and uplift the lives of farmers and people in the countryside.

For areas that implemented these programs, the following benefits were realized: encouraged urban planting, instilled self reliance, resulted in practice of good solid waste management, actualized nutrition feeding, mitigated disasters, increased food security and livelihood. (PIA 8) [top]

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