DA offering adlai as alternative to rice

FILIPINOS are advised to look at the more nutritious and high-fiber “adlai” cereal as a cheaper alternative to traditional grains like rice and corn.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the cereal has three times more calories and nearly six times more protein than rice and is regarded as a cure for diabetes and some types of allergies. In Mindanao, adlai sell at P50 a kilo, while corn grits retail for P25 per kilo to P30 per kilo.

Known as “Jacob’s Tears,” adlai belongs to the same family of weeds as rice, wheat and corn. In Zamboanga del Sur, it is also used as the main ingredient for the manufacture of the wine called “pangasi.”

Alcala had been promoting adlai since 2010 and has even included the indigenous cereal in the food-security blueprint called the Food Staples Sufficiency Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Adaptability trials were also conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) to assess the performance of the different varieties of adlai.

In these trials, 11 varieties were identified: gulian, kinampay (ginampay), pulot (or tapol), linay, mataslai, agle gestakyan, Nomiarc dwarf,  jalayhay and ag-gey. Of these varieties, gulian, kinampay and pulot are endemic to the country.

BAR is currently coordinating 32 adlai-related projects involving state colleges and universities and other research and development institutions across the country.

Jennifer Remoquillo, DA national coordinator for high-value crops development program, said the adlai program revolves around three central tasks: Encourage increased consumption of the cereal in various product forms; area expansion and achievement better yields through continuous technology demonstrations and making quality seeds available to farmers, and; promotion of better harvest and post-harvest practices and facilities.

DA has allocated P26 million for these activities in the past two years, with P16 million to be spent for this year. To inspire more farmers to plant the crop, Alcala asked Constancio Alama, director of the DA regional field unit 9, to start buying the adlai harvest of farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Part of the harvest will be distributed as seedlings in other parts of the country, Alcala said.

The grain is largely used in the region, notably Zamboanga del Sur, as an alternative to rice and as ingredient for native wine called pangasi.

Adlai can be made into crackers, maki or sushi, rice cake and cookies.  Coffee and flour can also be processed from the grain.

Given the versatility of the grain, the BAR will undertake a study on how to package and sell adlai as a high-fiber cereal for weight-conscious buyers.

Alcala is initially eyeing Japan as a possible market for the grain, as there have been already been Japanese importers who expressed strong interest to buy the commodity when they visited the country in 2012.

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Graduated from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism, finished all courses for a masteral degree in communication, earned six units of doctoral subjects. Took courses in anthropology, archaeology and sociology as well as Philippine studies, Wrote for the pre-martial law Manila Times and covered the First Quarter Storm and later helped edit a Makati-based business magazine. Returned to the Manila Times in 1986, covered the insurgency, business and eventually the justice beat. Handled the foreign news section of Malaya from 1992 to 1994, worked with the late Antonio Ma. Nieva on a newspaper specializing in corporate wars for two years. Joined the Manila Bulletin as assistant provincial editor in 2000 and retired in 2012.


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