PILI, Camarines Sur (7-Mar-2013) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is putting up nurseries for nutrient-rich starchy breadfruit or “rimas” under a P36-million roadmap even as a tasty rimas-flavored ice cream will be released to the market in Masbate in August.
“We thought at once that rimas is a good flavor for ice cream because of its fine texture. It has good consistency with milk. It also looks very nice because of its pure whiteness just like that of guyabano,“ DA-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC) Manager Luz Marcelino said here on Wednesday.
BIARC’s food technology experts are further refining the taste, although many visitors at the BAR Techno Forum in August 2012 already showed delight for it.
“We’re trying to improve on coagulation (ice cream thickening) and maybe, reduce sweetness in our formulation,” Marcelino said.
Meanwhile, the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is funding the development of breadfruit, interchangeably used with rimas, for food and other products.
The rimas ice cream has several variants—rimas with sweet potato, rimas with cheese and rimas with langka.
There is another unique blend—that with siling labuyo or hot spicy chili.
But all the ice cream flavors will virtually have rimas as the major flavor, taking up 80 percent of the mixture.
The project–Rimas Biodiversity Research, Conservation and Propagation in Bicol (RBR-CPB)–was funded with P1 million by BAR.
BIARC, Marcelino said, will tap cooperatives and private enterprises to market the ice cream as it expressed openness in giving the technology to cooperatives.
For the packaging, it is seeking an assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as the cost is around P200,000 just for packaging to be very attractive.
“We have many products in the pipeline for rimas, but the problem is the availability of fund,” Marcelino said.
BIARC initially just rented the ice cream-making machine, but it eventually needs to purchase it. The machine costs around P50,000 to P100,000.
Earlier, DOST also had a project on rimas, which determined the comparability of breadfruit flour with all-purpose flour.
The fruit was found out to have greater solubility, higher water absorption, greater tendency for gelation and emulsification and has general acceptability.
Breadfruit may not be so popular in the Philippines but it shows high potential to become a rich source of nutrients for many Filipinos–especially in poverty-stricken regions, an ingredient for pharmaceutical products and a raw material for industrial products, according to Marcelino.
“Rimas is a neglected crop. We’re working on a roadmap because it can be a major crop for the Philippines,” BAR Assistant Director Teodoro Solsoloy said in a statement here over the week.
Food security and nutritional security prompt government to pursue its research and development.
“Breadfruit has a high starch content, which explains why it is a staple of some people in Bicol Region and is their source of energy. We’re also exploring other applications because researches show it can have multiple uses,” BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar said in the same statement.
DA and the High Value Crops Development Program are co-funding the roadmap whose components are identification in 16 regions of planting materials for sustainable production costing P16 million; enhancing farmers’ capability to propagate breadfruit, P5 million; post-harvest technologies, P7.5 million; and establishment of 37 nurseries in regions, P7.4 million.
The government is compelled to develop processing and value-adding techniques for breadfruit if the fruit has to play a role in enhancing the country’s food security.
Fruits should be processed as these are perishable after one to three days after harvest.
Rimas is planted on an expansive 1,200 hectares in the Bicol Region but is grown more as a backyard tree rather than a plantation-type crop grown intensively and productively in farms.
Masbate is the ideal production area for rimas ice cream because the island province known for its vast ranches also has carabao’s milk and cheese that are both ice cream ingredients, Marcelino said.
It is also ideally the market because it is the area in Bicol that has a hotter climate, so the clamor for cold products.
Masbate has its own regional carabao breeding center meant to support carabao dairy production.
With the breadfruit food production plan, government aims to reduce poverty in the region as, after all, Bicol has been identified by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute as number one in malnutrition–particularly Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Sur.
The BIARC-BAR project also involves biodiversity study of rimas in Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines provinces and Catanduanes, and will conserve the region’s breadfruit germplasm.
Marcelino said BIARC is pushing for “Commodity by Station.”
Under this, Masbate will likely promote rimas ice cream as its top product.
“Without a focus on a commodity, the products are not attracting attention,” she said.
BIARC is exploring tissue culture for mass propagation of seedlings while developing breadfruit for chips, cookies, flour-based foods, candy and as flavoring for leche flan.
It plans to sell these products in supermarkets.
“We also want to come up with instant noodles made from rimas.
Definitely, it will have an advantage over what we have in the market because it is more nutritious,” Marcelino said.
Like other staple crops, breadfruit is carbohydrates-rich. It has low levels of protein and fat and a moderate glycemic index.
Nutrition-wise, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) said it is an excellent dietary staple and compares favorably with other starchy staple crops commonly eaten in the tropics, such as taro, plantain, cassava, sweet potato and white rice.
It is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium with small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron.
Breadfruit also has varieties that contain small amounts of folic acid.
It is known to have a high amount of dietary fiber, potassium, and is a good source of vitamins B3 and C, iron and thiamine.
It contains favorable amount of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Its leaves can be used for tea believed to reduce blood pressure and control diabetes.
A report of Philippine Medicinal Plants indicated it has papayotin, enzyme and artocarpin, and its bark is used for wound healing.
A bark decoction is a cure in dysentery.
Its leaves are used to relieve pain in the Carribean and the leaf decoction is used for hypertension in Jamaican folk medicine.
A phytochemical study further showed that breadfruit, scientifically called Artocarpus altilis, has a high degree of purity, and its starch can be turned into products that need long-heating process.
The grand breadfruit roadmap also involves post-harvest technologies for packaging, handling, drying, transport and processing of breadfruit.
In charge are the Bureau of Plant Industry, state universities and colleges, and Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization.
The post-harvest project also involves a study on the extension of shelf life for the fruit.
Implementing agencies for the roadmap are regional integrated agriculture research centers or RIARCs of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, MIMAROPA, Bicol, western, central and eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao and Caraga.
The University of the Philippines-Los Banos, Marinduque State University and University of Southern Mindanao are also involved.
Breadfruit, scientifically known as Artocarpus altilis, is called such as it smells like fresh-baked bread when baked or roasted.
Artos is a Greek word for bread, and karpos means fruit. Altilis means fat.
It is native to New Guinea. Yet breadfruit’s usefulness in the Pacific has been traced to more than 3,000 years as an important staple and part of traditional agroforestry systems, according to the NTBG.
From New Guinea, breadfruit later spread to Oceania, Melanesia (South Pacific which is north, northeast of Australia–including Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji), Micronesia (islands of Caroline, Gilbert, Marshall, Wake, Mariana and Nauru), and Polynesia (East Pacific–including Hawaii, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and Rotuma).
Breadfruits are among the world’s highest-yielding plants at 150 to 200 or more fruits per season.
Planting requires low labor. It grows well in hilly areas.
The NTBG reported that breadfruit is also used as construction material, medicine, glue, insect repellent and animal feed.
Its tree bears fruit at three to five years and stays productive for many decades.
“The ‘tree of bread’ has the potential to play a significant role in alleviating hunger in the tropics,” said the NTBG.
Its wood can be used for house construction as it resists termite. It has fiber that can be used for clothing.
The latex of breadfruit is also best used for boat caulking (joints sealing).
The government can take advantage of breadfruit plantation in order to protect its watersheds and forests.
Cultivating breadfruit trees protects watersheds; replacing slash-and-burn agriculture and field cropping with a permanent tree cover, the NGTB said. (PNA)