The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) is now exploring various programs for the development of wild-growing fruit crops indigenous to Apayao province.
Using funds from the government, the DA-BAR and the Apayao State College (ASC) are working on the product improvement and commercialization of indigenous fruits in Apayao. One promising indigenous fruit in Apayao is called lubeg.
Lubeg (Syzygium lineatum) of the Myrtaceae family is an erect, medium fruit tree usually four to five meters in height, with its leaves usually ovoid to elliptical measuring about eight to10 centimeters. The leaf has a sour taste.
Lubeg are oblong cherry-like fruits with thick and fleshy, spongy, leathery or brittle rinds and swell up to 13 millimeters long.
“The fruits are in cluster, whitish in appearance, and gradually turn from red to violet as they ripen. The fruits are considered to be highly perishable,” ASC researchers described.
At present, 40 percent of total production is in Apayao and the rest in the Cagayan Valley with an estimated 1,000 lubeg trees grown.
Different processing technologies for lubeg were developed to include wine, vinegar, jam, jelly, and fruit concentrates. ASC is also processing and packaging bignay and wild banana into wine and vinegar. These fruits are believed to have anti-oxidants and anti-cancer properties.
Lubeg jam serves as fillers for fruit-based baked products like inipit, custard cake, cup cake, and even jelly as fillers for doughnuts.
The province of Apayao is host to some of the country’s indigenous crops including: lubeg, bignay, bignay kalabaw, calumpit, saging matsing, other than the fruit-bearing trees like durian, marang, lanzones, rambutan, pineapple, mangosteen, coconut, santol, among others.
“We are encouraging farmers to produce fruit crops thereby promoting sustainable agriculture in the uplands,” said Dr. Ronald Ocampo of ASC.