THE Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is preparing a package of technologies for adlai, an alternative to rice which government wants to propagate.
Adlai is grown in large quantities in Mindanao as a staple. Scientifically known as Coix lacryma-jobi L., adlai belongs to the Poaceae grass family to which where crops like rice, corn and wheat also belong. It is cultivated as a cereal crop in tropics and subtropics, like in India, China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.
The Department of Agriculture recently included adlai in its mainstream research and development program, as one of the country’s best-kept secrets and a potent weapon against hunger in a “climate-changed world.”
PhilMech Executive Director Rex L. Bingabing said the agency is working on a package of technologies for the postharvest of adlai.
“Adlai, while not yet widely planted at present, has a good potential to help local communities assure their food needs. It can be cooked like rice but there is a need to address the postharvest issues related to adlai which PhilMech is currently doing,” he added.
PhilMech is currently evaluating two milling systems for adlai. Existing rubber-roller type mills can process 12 cavans of unmilled adlai per hour with a 60-percent milling recovery.
Research showed that threshing harvested adlai should be in the early hours of the day, and the optimum moisture content should be between 15 percent and 17 percent during the process.
Milled adlai grains are found to be susceptible to insect infestation and fungal contamination.
PhilMech tests showed that a moisture content of around 10 percent for milled adlai grains that are stored in hermetic containers can protect the grains from insect infestation for up to 1.5 months. The hermetic bag also minimized the proliferation of fungal infection.
PhilMech also conducted cooking tests for adlai, which showed that water requirement for cooking is not different from that of milled white rice.
When it came to eating the cooked adlai grains, however, blind tests conducted by PhilMech in Nueva Ecija showed consumers still preferred rice to adlai because of the unfamiliarity to the latter.
However, adlai and rice mixed at a ratio of 25:75 was also favored by consumers who took part in the blind.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research is currently coordinating 32 adlai-related projects involving state colleges and universities, and other research and development institutions across the country.
Location-specific technology development of the crop is being implemented in areas identified with potential for commercial production like in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur, where vast areas are planted with adlai to produce seeds for distribution throughout the country.
During planting trials, 11 adlai varieties were identified: gulian; kinampay (ginampay), pulot (or tapol), linay, mataslai, agle gestakyan, Nomiarc dwarf, jalayhay and ag-gey.
Three of these varieties—gulian, kinampay and pulot—are endemic found to be endemic to the Philippines.