Bright future of moringa plant discussed in national congress held in Pangasinan

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan, Nov. 15 — Moringa Oleifera (scientific name of the Filipino malunggay) took center stage during the 4th National Moringa Congress at Sison Auditorium here today (Thursday), attended by about 2,000 stakeholders of the moringa industry from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The congress under the theme "Malungay for health and wealth", was organized by the Moringaling Philippine Foundation Inc., headed by Fr. Resty Lumanlan, also president of the Moringa Green Gold Company.

The forum discussed the future of the industry and the measures that need to be done in the light of the increasing demand for moringa in the local and export markets.


Lumanlan said the congress was held in a bid to bind all moringa stakeholders so that, in partnership with the government, they can come up with a united effort to further promote moringa for the economic and benefit of the whole Filipino people.

Gov. Amado Espino Jr. endorsed the Congress because of moringa's established reputation as a healthy and nutritious food.

Admitting that since he was a child he already knew the good benefits that would be derived from malungay, Espino asked every household in Pangasinan to have at least one or two malungay plants in their backyard to keep them continuously healthy.

Dr. Bernadette Estrella-Arellano, executive director and former chairperson of Moringaling Foundation, admitted that moringa planting is just starting to peak up in Pangasinan.

However, she lauded the efforts of Fourth District Rep. Gina de Venecia in seeking to establish from 20 to 30 hectares of malunggay plantation areas in San Fabian and San Jacinto towns from where she also intends to build two moringa processing plants.

Arellano said at least 20 to 30 hectares of land are also set to be planted in her own Rosales town to add to the 17 hectares of land now being developed by her company in Mt. Acop, Rosales.

It is in Rosales where the first malungay processing plant was set up by Arellano three years ago that now produces malungay powder which is being supplied to some food processors who mix the powder to their products, like bihon, candies, pastries, biscuits and others.

The processing plant, she said, is getting its supply of malungay leaves from a one-hectare malungay plantation also located in Rosales town.

Arellano, daughter of the late Agrarian Reform Minister Conrado Estrella, revealed that malungay powder will soon be exported for the first time to the United States after two Americans came to her office a month ago and expressed interest in buying the malungay powder.

Meanwhile, Alex Escano, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, said that with the impending declaration by Congress to make malungay as the national vegetable of the Philippines, moringa is expected to create more market demands here and abroad.

Rep. De Venecia is the author of such bill in the House of Representatives and in the Senate by Senator Francis Pangilinan.

Escano said the 4th congress was called because there is a need to gather together all stakeholders of malungay, from growers to processors, to discuss the need to raise the volume of moringa needed for export.

"There is also a need to improve the standard of processing in order to produce moringa powder that is guaranteed not only in quantity but also quality," he said.

Noting that export of this product is still nil at present, Escano stressed the need to organize properly so that production of moringa can be pooled together.

At the same time, he said, processing of malungay should follow the prescribed standard because if it is done haphazardly, the product may lose its nutritious quality. (PNA)