Wine From Native Batanes Fruit
Processed products from the fruits of an indigenous tree in Batanes will be researched and developed in earnest with the financial support expected to be released soon by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture.
The tree is called Arius in Batanes but is botanically known as Podocarpus costalis. This is a relatively small tree that is usually one meter to five meters tall. Actually, this is a landscaping tree in Metro Manila and elsewhere. The difference is that when growing in Batanes, it produces a lot of small berry-like fruits whereas it usually does not bear any fruit in Manila and elsewhere in Luzon.
The fruit has a swollen fleshy portion that is sweet when ripe but is somewhat sticky. Some people, especially the young boys, may eat just a few fruits at a time. But it is the birds that love to eat the fruits and that could be the reason why the tree is well dispersed in Batanes. The seeds that go with their feces eventually get established in the ground.
The birds can’t eat all the fruits, however, and they are just left to rot under the trees. That could be the reason why Roger Baltazar, the director of research and extension of Basco Agricultural College thought of proposing to BAR to conduct experiments to develop processed products out of the ripe fruits. The proposal was well received and according to Anthony Obligado, head of the technology commercialization of BAR, the funds for the research project are expected to be released any time now.
Wine will be the most important product that Baltazar and the members of his team of researchers will focus on. They will follow scientific procedures in fermenting the wine and will also develop quality design for the label and the bottles.
Actually, Baltazar and his group have already developed earlier samples of wine, tart, juice, jam and tea. However, they will have to perfect the products so that they could be of export quality. What is good about the Arius wine from Batanes is that it could be claimed to be from organic materials since the trees are not sprayed with any chemical pesticides and they are not fertilized with synthetic chemicals either. Because of this, the wine could command a higher price than their counterparts in the market.
Actually, the BAR has been instrumental in promoting the development of products from our indigenous plants. One of the projects earlier funded by the agency is the study on Sapinit, the wild berry that is growing abundantly in Mt. Banahaw and other upland areas in Quezon province.
Thanks to the funding given by BAR, the researchers from the Quezon Agricultural Experiment Station in Tiaong, Quezon have developed Sapinit raspberry wine, jam, juice and vinegar. Members of a cooperative in Dolores, Quezon are now making these raspberry products, giving them a new source of livelihood.
Also earlier, BAR had given financial support to the research of Dr. Estela Caringal-Taño on the development of oregano wine and other wellness products.
Of course, DAR is also supporting projects utilizing non-indigenous raw materials such as the imported varieties of sweet sorghum. It is helping Antonio Arcangel of Batac, Ilocos Norte, in developing products out of sweet sorghum while there are no processing plants yet for the manufacture of biofuel using sweet sorghum as feedstock.
Many of the products of the researchers and entrepreneurs helped by BAR will be showcased at the forthcoming agri-fair that will be held at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. This will be from August 9 to 12.
By Zac B Sarian