Arrowroot Gets New Boost In Production Management
Arrowroot (Marantha arundinacea) locally known as “uraro” is a low perennial herbaceous plant with large leaves, thick, fleshy, creeping roots, and long white fibers. Considered as an introduced crop in the Philippines coming from tropical Latin Americas, the crop is grown specifically for its rhizomes for flour production. From its rhizomes, digestible starch is extracted and sold in markets.
Given its potential as an effective substitute for corn in broiler ration, and its value as an excellent roughages and silage for animal feed, the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit IVA (DA-RFU IVA) through the Southern Tagalog Integrated Agricultural Research Center (STIARC) for CALABARZON, developed and implemented a RDE project that incorporated good agricultural practices (GAP) and explore other product possibilities of the commodity.
Initially implemented under a coconut-based farming system in Catanauan, Quezon through the Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) program of DA-BAR, the DA-STIARC has since intensified its study into one deal;ing with arrowroot production management system. It is envisioned that, with project success, the arrowroot flour produced will be a main ingredient in the fast-paced local delicacy of Catanauan municipality and other nearby communities.
To date, local processors from Laguna, Bulacan, and Marinduque obtain their raw materials from Catanauan and this alone serves as the motivation of the local farmers to diversify and intensify operation under coconut-based farming system. Also, local farmers are now into organizing into a unified cluster farming which makes commodity production efficient and sustainable for the increasing demand of arrowroot-based product processing industry.
In addition, the crop was identified and elevated as the One-Town-One Product (OTOP) by the local government of Catanauan, to make it competitive in terms of production, processing, promotion and marketing. The technical support extended by DA-STAIRC to the producers of the crop until its final processing will make the commodity more competitive and eventually be diversified into more arrowroot-based products.
With the operationalization and expansion to other areas of the CPAR project on arrowroot, STIARC will ensure that all technical requirements will be addressed and support services provided, especially on the agribusiness side by the regional Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) which already signified their support intentions to DA-STIARC and the local government of Catanauan, Quezon.
As the project progresses, the BAR through its National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP) will ensure that support activities will be continuously provided from technology assessment, promotion and marketing, not to mention capability building activities such as seminars and trainings on arrowroot processing including packaging and labeling of finished products and marketing. All of these activities will be in time for the next product exhibition where new outputs of research and development activities will be showcased to help local farmers and producers to be productive and competitive and their production profitable and sustainable.
By Marlowe U. Aquino, PhD