House wants to develop ‘malunggay’ industry

The House Committee on Agriculture and Food approved a substitute bill seeking to develop and strengthen the malunggay industry in the Philippines due to its benefits to public health.

The substitute bill seeks to promote the production, processing, marketing and distribution of Moringa oleifera, or malunggay.

It also mandates the Department of Agriculture (DA) to formulate a five-year development framework for the implementation of plans, projects and programs for the production, marketing, processing and distribution of malunggay for food, medicinal and commercial needs.

Deputy Speaker Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica of the Fourth District of Quezon City, one of the authors of the bill, said now is the time for the government to intervene and develop the moringa industry, given the many benefits of malunggay.

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“Studies have shown that 100 grams of moringa leaves contain nine times the protein of yogurt, 10 times the vitamin A of carrots, 15 times the potassium of bananas, 17 times the calcium of milk and 12 times the vitamin C of oranges,” she said.

Malunggay is one of the world’s most useful crops and is a tropical tree with multifarious uses,” Villarica added.

According to Villarica, the numerous uses of malunggay together with its easy propagation, have increased international interest in the crop.

Currently, she said, cultivation of large scale is seen in India, Israel, Thailand, Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Pacific Islands.

One of the principal authors of the bill, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga said the measure will develop a “vibrant and viable” malunggay-based agro-industries that will support the agri-industrialization initiatives of the Duterte administration and address the nutritional deficiency problems common in the countryside and
urban slums.

“It can increase multifarious and varied on-farm, off-farm and nonfarm enterprise incomes; generate millions of jobs; utilize vast tracts of idle agricultural lands and urban spaces; make the Philippines globally competitive; impact local and international market; and help attain food security and safety, poverty reduction and socioeconomic equity,”
Arroyo said.

The lawmaker is pushing for a budget of at least P100 million with an incremental increase of P10 million per year for the development of the malunggay industry, which shall be included in the General Appropriations Act.

Deputy Speaker Sharon S. Garin of Aambis-OWA, another author of the bill, said it is time for malunggay to take the forefront because it is considered a “superfood.”

“Internationally, malunggay is getting more accepted. It is endemic to the Philippines, so we won’t need any complicated technology.”

Also, Party-list Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar of Diwa, an author of the bill, said the measure seeks to establish a national program for the malunggay industry.

Aglipay-Villar said that, while at present malunggay is an underutilized resource in the country, it is clear it would be to the benefit of the Filipino people if the plant and its industry were given more attention and support.

“Not only because of the health benefits malunggay brings but the economic ones, as well. It is clear that as more and more uses of malunggay are discovered, the demand for it will increase,” she said.

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