Science and Environment

Villar pushes creation of malunggay industry

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Cynthia Villar is batting for the establishment of a malunggay industry that will help provide a source of employment and livelihood to many Filipinos.

Villar, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, authored Senate Bill 2099, or the act establishing the malunggay industry.

The bill also proposes the declaration of November as Malunggay Month.

“Malunggay is usually found in backyards of most Filipino homes. Grown with little to no maintenance, this has taken the moniker, ‘the miracle tree,’ because all of its parts, including leaves, pods, bark, seeds, fruits and roots, are claimed to have nutritional and healing properties,” Villar said.

Scientifically called moringa oleifera, this plant is also known to produce the most natural oil and is used in cooking and making salad. Its quality is being compared with olive oil.

Studies show that every 100 grams of the malunggay pod contain 2.5 grams protein, 0.1 g fat, 8.5 g carbohydrate, 4.8 g fiber, and minerals such as calcium (30 milligrams), phosphorus (110 mg), and iron (5.3 mg).

Its leaves (per 100 grams) contain 7.5 g water, 6.7 g protein, 1.7 g fat, 14.3 g total carbohydrate, 0.9 g fiber, 2.3 g ash, and minerals calcium (440 mg), phosphorus (70 mg), iron (7 mg), copper (110 mg) and vitamins A and C.

The leaves also contain different amino acids and estrogenic substances, including the anti-tumor compound sitosterol, and pectinesterase. 

Villar also cited the use of malunggay as traditional medicine to treat wounds, skin infections, cough, fever and respiratory ailments, and improve the lactation of pregnant women.

She further cited its antioxidant properties and its use by beauty and cosmetic companies in manufacturing skin care products. Additionally, it is also proven to have anti-aging, anti-diabetic, anti-tumor, and anti-microbial properties.

“Malunggay has also been a very profitable source of livelihood for the marginalized sector. The plant has been processed into noodles, cookies, pretzels, and pandesal,” she said.

“Through continuous promotion of the plant’s benefits to its consumers, we can establish malunggay as a legitimate industry and realize its potential for commercialization nationally and worldwide. It can generate local employment to alleviate poverty, expand the agriculture sector, and help the nutrition and healthcare sector in the country,” she added.

Under Villar’s bill, industry-wide development of malunggay entails appropriate land usage to increase and sustain its productivity and output. A systematic program that could improve production of malunggay through its seeding, cultivation, harvesting, and proper processing is also mandated.

The measure also requires more funding for the intensive scientific research and studies on the plant’s propagation and its possible use as an agricultural input (fertilizer) and animal feed, which can lessen farmers’ expenses.

The bill also mandates a study of malunggay’s potential as an organic wonder in international markets and prepare it to become one of the Philippines’ major commercial products. It also seeks investment in the biofuel potential of malunggay oil as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel for power generation.

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