Adlay: A healthy, versatile food ingredient
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Adlay, popularly known as Chinese barley, can be easily overlooked due to its grass-like appearance that blends well with the other wild plants. But unlike weeds, the stem of adlay could grow from one  to three meters tall.

It bears tear-like shape grains which become the source of (staple) food of many indigenous people particularly in the highlands.

It produces good yield in areas where rice and corn hardly grow. It can also tolerate low pH, poor soil quality, water logging and is resistant to pests.

Adlay as a staple food crop has a good eating quality. Its grains which when matured are harvested, pounded, threshed, and winnowed, can be cooked and served steamed just like rice. As food source, adlay is as versatile as rice. It has a pleasant mild flavor making it a good ingredient in soups and broths.

The grain can be ground into flour and used to make breads, pastas, and porridge. Its ground grains can be roasted and turned into coffee or tea and further processed and fermented into wine.

Just like its counterparts (rice and corn), adlay is highly nutritious. In a chemical analysis provided by Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), a 100-gram serving of adlay is rich in carbohydrate (73.9 g), protein (12.8 g), and fat (1.0 g). It is also packed with other minerals including calcium (25 mg), phosphorus (43.5 mg), iron (5 mg), niacin (4.3 mg), thiamine (0.28 mg), and riboflavin (0.19 mg).

Given the crop’s potentials, the Bureau of Agricultural Research implemented the adlay research and development  program, which pushes for the development, utilization, and promotion of adlay as an alternative crop to our food staples, and as an additional source of income and livelihood in non-traditional corn and rice areas.

The bureau has initiated various activities to introduce the crop to the public and hopefully to champion it as a staple crop along rice and corn. 

Adaptability yield trials were initially conducted in the regions, followed by more trials implemented by DA regional field offices, state universities and colleges and now, even the private sector.

These yield trials brought about the development of site-specific recommendations for different areas in the country.

Various adlay products have been developed and are now available to be tapped by the private sector for mainstream market.

Among these products include adsoy, gourmix, champorado, 3-in-1 coffee, nutrimeal, herbal coffee mix, breakfast cereal, wine, adlay pop, cracker, cereal bar, and polvoron.

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