Issue of February 4, 2018
Mt. Province

69th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Study highlights potentials of ube as high value crop
by Herman Denis

Yam or ube, which  has been recommended as a high value crop by the province of Benguet,  has also been recognized by the Department of Agriculture.

Yam is still considered an underutilized root crop with a great promise as a safe and highly nutritious staple in the highlands. Its economic potentials have yet to be fully tapped.

The potentials of ube in the food industries and staple was highlighted by Grace S. Backian, senior science research specialist, Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center, Benguet State University (NPRCRTC-BSU) in a lecture sponsored by the DA to promote local crops and agribusiness.

During the conduct of the Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment in Regional Exposition recently in La Trinidad, Backian said there is an increasing demand by processing centers for chips, flour, starch, and purees made out of ube.

She added that ube is also used today as an ingredient of confectioneries, cakes, pastries, and several delicacies.

In 2016, ube was produced in only about 32.75 hectares in the Cordillera, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

It also noted that the emerging yam or ube industry of the region is faced with constraints, such as limited production of preferred purple yam varieties and lack of clean planting materials.

Backian said these problems are addressed through research and development, one of which is the Yam Research and Development of the Benguet State University. A rapid multiplication technique through the minisett technology is seen to help resolve the problems on clean and quality planting materials.

Minisett technology is the process of cutting the ube tuber into pieces. This is followed by treating the tubers with dapo or ashes. Usually, the ashes are mixed with 20 grams of fungicide before it is planted to a media with a mixture of soil and burned/carbonized rice hull. A sliced tuber can produce 10 planting materials, Backian said.

She added that the planting materials can produce seeds of around 900 grams to reach the weight requirement of one to three kilograms of tuber of yam.

The output that the minisett technology produces is a whole seed/tuber that will be used as planting material.

The technology was introduced to the Taloy Sur Ube Growers, a component of the Taloy Sur Multipurpose Cooperative in Tuba, Benguet.

Backian said the purple variety is the preferred quality for processing due to its color and good shape,  tuber’s weight of one to three kilos, and because it is free from diseases or mechanical damage. These qualities are also preferred by the market.

Ube is presently a secondary cash crop for most of its growers. Benguet is the lead ube producer and the main source of raw yam supply for Cordillera processors and merchants.

The NPRCRTC-BSU study entitled, “Propagation of Improved Quality Planting Materials of Yam to Enhance Production through Minisett Technology” funded by DA, was a continuation of a previous research on the yam rapid multiplication technique.

“The main objective of the study is to strengthen the seed system of the yam industry through rapid multiplication technique using the minisett technology,” Backian said.

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