Friday, November 24, 2006

Bright future for coco farmers seen with discovery of SAPdrink

The recent discovery of a drink that is touted to be a better alternative to soft drinks may just make the country’s coconut farmers more in demand and financially richer.

“SAPdrink was actually discovered through the research project of one of the staff of the PCA Research Center,” Philippine Coconut Authority XI regional manager Lornito Orillaneda said in an interview. Millicent Secretaria, a PCA researcher, recently won as researcher of the year during the National Scientists Awards.

SAPdrink actually comes from “tuba” which is really the sap taken from the flower of the coconut, thus explaining its name. “Tuba” is more popularly known as a cheap alcoholic beverage. However, the discovery of the SAPdrink may just elevate the lowly tuba to the status of a healthier drink option.

“Tuba contains alcohol but if processed without passing fermentation then it becomes a non-alcoholic and healthy drink,” he said. The SAPdrink can also last for a month provided it is refrigerated.

SAPdrink is not yet available commercially, he said but PCA is trying to market it to encourage children and adults as well to patronize the drink. Orillaneda said they are not putting down the soda companies but SAPdrink is really a better alternative because it is very nutritious.

He said carbonated drinks have been known for causing increased blood sugar and UTI infection among children and adults. By patronizing this drink, he added, we are encouraging our people to be healthy at a cheaper price.

The tuba used for the processing of SAPdrink comes from hybrid coconut and not the ordinary coconut. Orillaneda said they have been distributing hybrid coconut seeds to farmers so they can replace their old coconut trees.

“Almost 100 percent of the new coconut plants in Southern Mindanao are already hybrid coconuts,” he said. However, he admitted that there are old folks who do not want to change the coconut variety they are planting.

Almost 16 thousand hectares all over Southern Mindanao are already planted to hybrid coconut and we expect the number of hectares planted to hybrid coconut to grow more, he said. (lovely a. carillo)

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