An Easy Way to Germinate Sago Palm Seeds Found
A researcher from Aklan State University (ASU) in Banga, Aklan, has ,found an easy way to germinate sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) seeds for planting. Previously people found it hard to germinate seeds of this palm species which yields valuable flour as well as leaves for roofing.
He is Michael Ibisate, research coordinator of the ASU’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Environmental Sciences, who said that sago seeds easily germinate when soaked in a swampy and muddy environment provided that they are physiologically mature.
In his experiment, Ibisate simulated the environment which favors seed germination. This resulted in one hundred percent germination of mature sago seeds after one month, he said.
Ibisate, who has been working on the conservation of sago palm using tissue culture technique, said in their previous study that the sago seed was believed to have poor germination due to the presence of pericarp and sarcotesta. Thus, his research team used embryo rescue technique which enabled the successful development of an immature or weak embryo into a viable plant in vitro.
Aside from tissue culture, sucker is the widely used planting material for mass propagation of sago palm. In this regard, ASU researchers are planning to study further the use of sucker as planting material to determine the optimum conditions required to reduce mortality rate at seedling stage.
Sago, locally known as Ambolong in AkIan, has enormous starch deposit in its trunk. The starch has a high food value and has a big potential for industrial use. A mature sago palm could yield 50 to 70 kilos of starch. The pith, bud and shoot can also be eaten; the sap can be processed into sugar, vinegar and wine.
Apart from its use as food, Aklanons find sago as the best source of material for making shingles used as roofing material for light houses or huts. Ibisate said that many shingle makers in the province prefer using sago leaves over nipa leaves because sago leaves are more -durable, especially when used in coastal areas. Sago shingles fetch a higher price than nipa shingles. The biggest market for sago shingles is Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.
Ibisate revealed that there is now a growing demand for sago palm as ornamental plant, both for use indoor and outdoor. Sago, he said, can be grown in an ordinary garden soil and does not require much attention.
Ibisate’s ongoing study on the conservation of sago palm is one of the projects being supported by ASU. At present, he is studying various parameters to further enhance the development of sago by using seeds as planting material.
Meanwhile, Ibisate continues to mass propagate sago palm from seeds to help increase the local supply of seedlings. And the good news is that several hundreds of seedlings are now available to interested growers at P50 each.