By Estrella Z. Gallardo
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) said during his keynote message during the Sweetpotato Farms and Industry Encounters through the S&T Agenda (FIESTA), said that “Camote should be perceived as superfood and a source of income instead of being associated with poverty and being slow-brained or being left behind.”
Speaking before farmers and researchers during the Sweetpotato FIESTA held on July 9-10, 2019 at the Bureau of Water and Soils Management, Quezon City. Dr. Ebora encouraged everyone to work together in order to improve the perception on camote in the country.
Currently, he said, camote or sweetpotato is being coined as “superfood” due to its nutrient content. Popular diet trends also include sweetpotato as part of its recommended food. He also cited his appreciation to Max’s Group for including camote in its offering, “spring chicken with sweetpotato fries.”
Since the 1970s, PCAARRD has been undergoing research on sweetpotato wherein the Council supported the National Rootcrop Program of the Visayas State University (VSU) (the then Visayas State College of Agriculture or VisCA).
In 2015, PCAARRD launched the Industry Strategic S&T Program for Sweetpotato with the project, “S&T-based Sweetpotato Value Chain Development for Food in Tarlac, Albay, Leyte, and Samar” as its pilot program.
To date, Dr. Ebora said that the accomplishments include the development and enhancement of 22 food microenterprises and the introduction of six new sweetpotato hybrids that promise increased yield.
According to Dr. Ebora, the program resulted to the collaboration of VSU-Philippine Rootcrops Research and Training Center (VSU-PhilRootcrops), Max’s chain of restaurants, and Nutri-pros, which aimed to keep the supply of sweetpotato in check for Max’s menu offerings.
The Sweetpotato FIESTA was organized by three R&D consortia of DOST-PCAARRD: Central Luzon Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (CLAARRDEC), Visayas Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Program (ViCARP), and Bicol Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (BCAARRD).
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 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. (PPCI)