A root-crop festival levels up the ‘poor man’s produce’
IN THE PHILIPPINES, rootcrops like cassava and camote have long been considered to be ‘poor man’s produce.’ The production of these crop is usually associated with smallholder farmers with low incomes. But rootcrops deserve a second look, especially now that they are considered healthy food. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research projects that by 2020, roots and tubers will be integrated into emerging markets through the efficient and environmentally sound production of a diversified range of high-quality, competitive products for food and for the feed industry.
THE ENERGY FOOD
Rootcrops, in general, are energy foods. In recognition of the importance of rootcrops in the human diet, various food products from these have been developed at the Philippine Root Crops Research and Training Center (PhilRootcrops) at the VSU. Recently, the direction of its product development is towards nutrition and health, in consideration of the nutrient deficiencies of millions of Filipinos.
According to Dr. Julie D. Tan of PhilRootcrops, rootcroops have a low glycemic index, which is good for people with diabetes, for whom rootcrops and their associated products can be sources of energy, vitamins, and micronutrient needs. This is significant given the rise in the numbers of diabetic Filipinos. And this is a worldwide trend; based on International Diabetes Federation and World Health Organization data, around 380 million people are expected to develop diabetes by 2025.
Rootcrops are also high in dietary fibers, and contain minerals for the maintenance of body processes for good health.
In addition, these are generally grown easily even in marginal areas.