Cagayan Valley opens a new area of 5,000 hectares set by the government for protein-rich peanut, a legume with nitrogen fixing property that is deemed to be an ideal climate change-mitigating crop.
The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) effectively targets a 43 percent increase in peanut production in Region 2 in three to five years. Presently, peanut area is placed at 3,500 hectares.
“We want to continue our support for peanut breeding and production because peanut remains to be a minor crop rather than a cash crop, even if farmers have an opportunity to make money from it by replacing our big import,” said Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) director.
CVIARC Peanut Project Leader Rose Mary G. Aquino said BAR’s program involves breeding for improved peanut varieties. This also has a seed support component from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD).
Peanut has the ability to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas-emitting nitrous oxide from nitrogen, likewise with less water need (4 to 50 millimeters) per application of irrigation.
Legumes such as peanut, mungbean and soybean can capture nitrogen from the air, then “fix” into plant food, and thus make it a natural fertilizer to the plant.
Aside from high protein content at 26 to 28 percent, peanuts are rich in B vitamins, folate, niacin, and Vitamin E. It has the good fat that helps remove cholesterol from blood, consequently helping reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Aquino said that they want to stabilize the peanut production in Region 2 which has been erratic due to the farmers’ planting of yellow corn instead of peanut, due to insufficient peanut seed supply during planting season.
Philippines peanut supply per year is 60,000 to 70,000 MT. The country imports 30,000 to 50,000 MT per year, meaning, it imports more than 50 percent of the peanut supply yearly primarily from China.
Region 2 was once a big peanut producer. It had a peanut area of 22,000 hectares in 1996, but due to the low yield and therefore low income, farmers shifted to yellow corn, a BAR report said.
Varieties of peanut considered climate change-ready are Namnama-1 or Philippine-registered NSIC Pn 11 and Namnama 2 or NSIC Pn 14.
They have a pod yield of 2.2 to 2.6 MT per hectare. These are breeds shared by the India-based International Crops Research Institute (ICRISAT) to the Philippines.
Another ICRISAT variety is the Asha meaning “hope,” with a pod yield of up to 3.1 MT per hectare. It is called a “3-in-1” variety because of its flexible size of Class A “export” quality (one gram per seed), Class B for domestic market, and Class C for planting and processing. Estrella Z. Gallardo PSiJourn MegaManila