Potential of rimas as staple food crop explored

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Known as rimas (Artocarpus altilis), breadfruit is the common name for this crop – a term adapted from the observation that when cooked, the fruit exhibits a potato-like flavor as that of a freshly baked bread. It belongs to the family of mulberry (Moraceae) including langka and marang.

Studies on rimas revealed that the fruit is high in carbohydrate and enegy content, making this crop a possible staple commodity alternative to rice as a staple food, and to wheat, flour, and feed. However, very little data is available on rimas in the Philippines. Cultural practices in cultivation and propagation of the crop, even the general knowledge on the possible byproducts of rimas is almost nonexistent.

Hence, the hub of the discussion of the “Consultation Meeting/Workshop for the Crafting of Rimas (Breadfruit) Development Program/Roadmap” organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Resaerch (BAR).

The workshop was aimed at looking into the full potential of rimas (breadfruit) as a possible crop that can bring the Philippines to rice sufficiency by the year 2013. One of the outputs of the workshop is the crafting of the “Rimas Development Program/Roadmap” providing blueprint for prioritizing R&D areas on the crop.

“This must be one of the additional crop that we are going to work with. If we only depend on rice as basis for us to become food secure in our country, may be we will not be able to attain such goals,” expressed Dr. Solsoloy in his opening remarks.

Attending the workshop weree participants from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Marinduque State College, DA-Regional Field Units (DA-RFU), Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), Regions 2, 4A, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11 as well as the High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) regional coordinators.

Invited participants shared their knowledge and experience in propagating rimas in their regions. Although most regional representatives did confirm that rimas was available in their provinces, uses and propagation differed from province to province. Region 6 for instance, expressed that they have tried different propagation techniques to grow rimas and are still not able to produce with consistency. Region 8 on the other hand, shared that they use rimas as swine feed.

Identifying problems such as the lack of information on the basic data of rimas, available planting materials, propagation techniques, location of existing rimas around the country, and cultural practices propelled the use of a problem-based approach in creating the roadmap.

Other components of the approach raised during the workshop were identifying researchable areas, components for R&D, essential support services, and possible implementing agency. The group also suggested a benchmarking project to pioneer the promotion of rimas in provinces. Database establishment on available varieties in the Philippines, soil type, climate conditions survivable by the varieties, crop requirements, propagation techniques, and product development were suggested as part of this benchmarking endeavor.

To date, HVCDP’s staple food crops and legumes include only banana (saba), root crops, adlai, and soybeans. With the foundations of R&D on breadfruit already put in place through the successful workshop and the dedication of the participants and their respective agencies, rimas would soon be part of our arsenal of crops in combatting staple food scarecity in our country, providing an alternative source of possible low-cost carbohydrate for dryland communities throughout the Philippines.(Zuellen B. Reynoso/DA-BAR)

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