Saluyot can earn a fortune - UPLB
() - March 15, 2009 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Don’t look now, but the once “lowly saluyot” can earn a fortune for an enterprising farmer.

In one regular season (up to seven months), a saluyot grower can earn a net income of P411,349 per hectare, according to a cost and return analysis done by University of the Philippins Los Baños (UPLB) researchers.

To set up a one-hectare saluyot farm, one needs an initial investment of P228,651 to cover labor cost, materials needed, and fixed costs, UPLB researchers Dr. Rodel Maghirang, Ma. Luisa Guevara, and Gloria Rodulfo computed.

In a season, one can harvest 80,000 bundles of saluyot per hectare. At a cost of P8 per bundle, one can gross P640,000.

To promote production of this green leafy vegetable, the Los Baños-based Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRD) and DOST Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP) has published a “Saluyot Production Guide.”

Scientifically named Cochorus olitorius, it is popularly known as saluyot (Ilokos), tugabang (Bisaya), bush okra (English), jute mallow or Jew’s mallow, jute, and nalta.

Named molokheya in Egypt where it known to have originated, it is widely cultivated in the Sub-Sahara wet regions and North Africa’s drier areas.

In 2006, the 692 ha planted to saluyot throughout the Philippines produced 1,949 tons, reported the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (DA-BAS).

Top producers are Ilocos (particularly Pangasinan) (213 ha) and Western Visayas (154 ha). BAS noted, however, that “market gardens around Metro Manila are increasing and are more productive.”

The UPLB researchers said that saluyot can be harvested 30 days after transplanting by cutting the crop at 20-25 centimeters from the ground. The plants are harvested at one to two weeks interval for up to seven months.

The most common outlets of saluyot harvest are local markets. But some commercial uses of the crop have been discovered.

About 15 years ago, saluyot became a “food fad” in Japan after Japanese health buffs found that it was a low-calorie food and rich in Vitamin A and minerals such as iron, calcium, and protein. They used dried saluyot powder as an ingredient in meals and soups.

DOST’s Dr. Lydia Marero once reported: “Saluyot leaves are rich in beta carotene for good eyesight, iron for healthy red blood cells, calcium fro strong bones and teeth, and vitamin C for smooth, clean skin, strong immune cells, and fast wound-healing.”

Actually, powdered dry saluyot had been produced mainly to cater to expatriate Filipinos, particularly Ilocanos, in the United States and Middle East. But it later found a large market in Japan.

Among those who ventured into this income-generating activity a decade ago was the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), which produced powdered saluyot and exported it to Japan.             — Rudy A. Fernandez

CENTRAL LUZON STATE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE-BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY-PHILIPPINE COUNCIL DR. LYDIA MARERO DR. RODEL MAGHIRANG FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT GLORIA RODULFO LOS BA LUISA GUEVARA SALUYOT
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