Solon seeks gov’t support for malunggay industry

MANILA — A leader in the House of Representatives is pushing for more institutional support for the malunggay industry to spur the production, processing, distribution, and marketing of the said “superfood”.

Deputy Speaker and AAMBIS-OWA Partylist Rep. Sharon Garin filed House Bill 6555, also known as the Malunggay Development Act, which seeks to establish a national program for the malunggay industry.

Garin said the bill aims to strengthen the development of malunggay products for domestic and international distribution, encourage its consumption among Filipinos with its given health benefits, and promote it as a viable crop for small and backyard farming for poverty alleviation.

Garin highlighted that malunggay has been gaining international recognition as a “superfood” rich in nutrients and minerals as well as anti-oxidants and demands for exports have increased since 2013.

Malunggay, also dubbed as “The Miracle Tree” contains protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C, and has long been used as herbal medicine.

“For all its benefits, it is surprising that most people simply consider the malunggay an ordinary backyard plant, and isn’t a staple in the Filipino diet,” she said.

“Although recently, malunggay has been in the spotlight, judging from the number of products being marketed here, ranging from malunggay chips, malunggay powder, malunggay tea, malunggay capsules and even malunggay oil,” she added.

The bill mandates the creation of the Malunggay Development Committee chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

The committee shall be tasked to formulate necessary measures, programs, and projects for the advancement and industry-wide development of malunggay.

Furthermore, the bill provides that the month of November shall be declared as the National Malunggay Month.

The bill likewise seeks the creation of a Malunggay Development Fund with an initial amount of PHP50 million.