Why are some indigenous vegetables vanishing?

Published October 25, 2021, 2:01 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

As 145 indigenous vegetables have been rediscovered, an expert from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has expressed concern that some of these plants have slowly been disappearing, citing the use of plant-killing herbicides as among the reasons.

Lima bean (Screengrab from DOST-PCAARRD Facebook page)

Dr. Lorna E. Sister of the Institute of Crop Science, College of Agriculture and Food Science (ICropS-CAFS) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) stressed that the Philippines is a home to indigenous vegetables which are low-cost, and easily available source of micronutrients, antioxidants, and fibers.

During the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST-PCAARRD) virtual launch of its 10 new publications featuring indigenous vegetables in the country on Oct. 21, Sister cited five reasons why the country’s “katutubong gulay” were slowly vanishing.

“Isa na dyan ang paggamit natin ng mga herbicides patay po ang lahat ng halaman (One of the reasons is our use of plant-killing herbicides, it will kill all plants),” she said.

She said another reason is the replacement of the indigenous vegetables for more profitable crops or market-oriented crops.

“So marami tayong mga katutubong gulay na napapalitan na ng mga more profitable and market-oriented crops. So sa pandemyang ito ano ba ang nangyari sa atin? Hindi makagalaw yung produkto. Kaso hindi natin kilala ang mga gulay o mga halaman sa paligid natin na makakain pala, sayang po. They are very low input; they have evolved in our locality and they are very well adapted to our conditions (We have so many native vegetables that are being replaced by more profitable and market-oriented crops. So in this time of pandemic what happened to us? The product can’t move. However, we don’t know the vegetables or plants around us that we can eat unfortunately. They are very low input; they have evolved in our locality and they are very well adapted to our conditions),” Sister said.

Dr. Lorna E. Sister of the Institute of Crop Science, College of Agriculture and Food Science (ICropS-CAFS) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) (Screengrab from DOST-PCAARRD Facebook page)

She said that “infrastructure and conversion to residential areas” was the third reason why the indigenous vegetables started to disappear, given their environmental impacts.

(Screengrab from DOST-PCAARRD Facebook page)
“Hindi lang po nawala physically gang kanilang growing environment, ang nangyayari po nababago ang klima so nag-iiba po talaga ang condition kaya nawawala sila (Not only have they physically lost their growing environment, what is happening is that the climate is changing so the condition is really changing so they are disappearing),” she explained.

The UPLB researcher also noted that pollution of rivers, creeks, and even the land; and the the aggressive introduction of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) by seed companies with support of the local government units (LGUs) were also behind the disappearance of the indigenous vegetables.

She asked the LGUs to determine to what extent they can promote HYVs because such varieties also demand a high-level of management.

“We have grown to love so much the fast food chains, the processed foods but we are forgetting that these indigenous vegetables, they might hold the key to our survival,” Sister stressed.

Sister serves as the project leader of the ongoing DOST-PCAARRD project on the conduct of nutritional analysis of at least 12 priority indigenous vegetables commonly used by Filipinos.

The list of priority indigenous vegetables includes wild ampalaya (bitter gourd), labong (bush sorrel), erwad (black-jack), lupo (sessile joyweed), camansi (bread nut), kulitis/uray (spiny amaranth), papait (jima), amti (glossy nightshade), kadyos (pigeon pea), pannalayapen (chemperai), sapsapon (fireweed), and langka (jackfruit).

READ MORE: https://mb.com.ph/2021/06/19/state-researchers-to-conduct-nutritional-analysis-of-12-indigenous-vegetables-in-ph/

 
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