DILIMAN, Quezon City—Cashew, cassava, camote tops, banana, pineapple, and papaya are only some of the fruits, vegetables, and crops that provide vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and can help Filipinos in the fight against the pandemic.
That is according to former Health Secretary and public health specialist Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, who joined agriculture advocates in the fifth episode of the web series “Agri Tayo” to showcase native plants and crops that are considered as superfoods for their high nutritional value. The series is led by the Office of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and the Department of Agriculture.
Galvez-Tan added that dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and nuts should also be part of one’s diet as these are sources of different nutrients that can help protect the body against diseases. He also cited the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, coco vinegar, and virgin coconut oil.
Meanwhile, Pangilinan shared his personal picks from the wide selection of organically grown produce in their farm that serve as natural remedies. These include siling labuyo which can lower cholesterol and sugar levels, okra which has antioxidants, and alugbati which is rich in fiber and calcium.
Broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, who owns Vagabond Farms in Tanauan, Batangas, also talked about some useful plants in terms of their culinary and medicinal purposes like malunggay, turmeric, and herbs. Among the products being developed in the farm are pesto with malunggay and herb-infused alcohol using kaffir lime, oregano, tarragon, lemongrass, and basil.
“We realized that we shouldn’t have only one crop as this is more susceptible to pest attacks. So, we are now planting other crops,” Drilon said, adding her interest in growing endemic plants.
Drilon advised those who want to become plant parents to start in a small corner in their own living spaces. “You will enjoy it and, maybe, that could lead to bigger things in the future. The key is to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining,” she said.
MoCA Family Farm and RLearning Center president Gigi Morris was also part of the panel to share some power drink recipes using plants and ingredients that can be found locally. These drinks include citrusy camote tops with honey; blue ternate with citrus; bignay juice; and a special blend of young mulberry leaves, tarragon, guyabano, chili peppers, and honey.
Morris also agreed on the advantage of integrating and diversifying crops, as they do in their family farm which they consider their “pantry and pharmacy.”
“We should open our minds because there are many opportunities in agriculture,” Morris said. Morris’ farm is an extension service provider of the Agricultural Training Institute located in Padre Garcia, Batangas.
Morris shared her dream to see the role of farmers being celebrated in the country—even the small-scale farmers, family farmers, and returning overseas Filipino workers starting their own agricultural ventures. She also spoke of some of their community projects to help improve the livelihood of the locals, while also promoting the propagation and preservation of Philippine native trees.
“We always encourage agri-entrepreneurship. We know that farming is not easy, but we should never underestimate the value of networking. When you network with a community of Filipino family farmers, you learn a lot and they always help us out. Farmers are the best people to network and hang out with,” Morris said.
Dedicated to all frontliners and farmer-heroes, the latest Agri Tayo episode was streamed over Facebook and YouTube last August 13 and has garnered over 60,000 views as of this writing.