Assessment of The Pili Industry In The Bicol Region

Estela B. Orolfo Ph. D. -Retired CC-III DA-AES
( Paper presented in the Crop Congress during the Agri-Fiesta Sa Bikol 2000 at the UNC Sports Palace, Naga City on Sept. 5, 2000.)

Introduction

Pili (Canarium ovatum Engl.) is one of the twenty major fruit crops of the Philippines which deserve to be developed. It is the crop which the country produce with greatest advantage and competitiveness on a global scale. Historical accounts on this crop attests that the Philippines is the only country which produce and process pili in commercial quantity (De Padua et al, 1978) such that we have the monopoly of the foreign market (Coronel, 1990). However recently Hawaii intends to produce pili to cater to mainland USA (Zee, 1993).
The export potential of pilinuts and pilinut processed products is high. Pilinut is considered superior to almond (West, 1993). Processed delicacies of the kernel are very delicious and easily appeal to consumers, even among foreigners. In fact according to Lanuza (1970) the Philippines had been exporting pilinut to several countries since pre-war years . In 1997 the country exported 3,970 kilos of processed pilinuts to Australia and Guam (Coronel, 1990). The resin (elemi) which is extracted from the bark is a known export product of the country for many years . It has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses. It is an ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks. Record indicated that for many years the Philippines has been exporting resin (manila elemi) (Manalo G. A., et al, 1940). Oil from both kernel and pulp is considered equal if not better to olive oil in quality and is suitable for culinary uses.

Pili is indigenous to the Philippines (Merill, 1923). It is produced in at least 6 regions namely: Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Caraga, Western Visayas and Southern Mindanao (Fig. 1). In all these areas pili are found sporadically growing in forestal and semi-forestal conditions. It is compatible with a large variety of plants in a wide range of agro-ecological conditions. The tree is very sturdy and lives long. In the latest search for the oldest productive female tree sponsored by DA-Reg. V, the winner was claimed to have passed 4 generations (about 200 years) in inspite of the frequent typhoons that pass Bicol every year. This tree is still very prolific with an average yield of 12 sacks (20,000 - 24,000) fresh fruits per season (annually).

As a commercial commodity pili has other favorable attributes not possessed by other Philippine fruits. Pilinut is not perishable. The fruit can be marketed fresh, as shelled nuts, dried kernel or processed into various delicacies. It does not require costly storage treatment. If properly dried it can be stored for 1 year under ordinary room condition thus giving enough time to speculate for better prices.

Aside from its commercial importance pili fits well as a material for the agro-eco-tourism program of the government. The spreading crown provides shelter to wildlife and serve as wind breakers during typhoons. It is a good material for rehabilitating watershed areas and prevent soil erosion because of its deep penetrating root system, sturdy stems and vigorous crown.

In Bicol pili plays a significant role in the economy It provides additional income to some 13,435 farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters (Benchmark survey, 1998). The processing industry generate employment to scores of people such as the traders, processors, assemblers, factory workers, store keepers and others offering miscellaneous services related to the industry. At present there are about 256 entrepreneurs involved in the pili industry (Mirandilla, J.A., 1995). However, only 31 are registered (DTI, July, 2000).

Aware of the great potential of pili as a commercial crop it was selected as the flagship crop of Bicol. Thus, at present there is concerted efforts by various agencies and some NGO's to hasten the development of the industry in the region. Therefore the elevation of pili as the 8th subnetwork under the Philippine fruit RDE Agenda is welcomed with much hope for this crop to become an export winner in the near future.



Industry Situation



Production Area

Pili used to be one of the 7 major fruits of the country. However production area is generally sporadic and semi-forestal. Existing trees are natural borne such that local producers take this crop for granted. Pili trees were cut indiscriminately to give way to other crops like coconuts and various annual crops.

In 1996 the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics estimated the area at 1,218 hectares throughout the country with Bicol having the biggest area of 968 ha. (79.47%). Eastern Visayas is a poor second with 139 has. (11.41%), Southern Tagalog 72 has. (5.9%), Western Visayas 26 has. (2.13%) Caraga and Southern Mindanao 13 ha. (1.07%).

In Bicol Sorsogon has the biggest area devoted to pili with 669 hectares followed by Albay 145 hectares, Camarines Sur 100 hectares, Camarines Norte 50 hectares and Catanduanes 4 hectares.

Existing Pili Trees

The latest survey jointly conducted by DA and LGU in 1998 accounted some 410,161 pili trees throughout the Bicol region. Of this population 97,920 (23.87%) are productive. The 312, 241 (76.13%) are either male or are still in the vegetative stage. At present this population must have doubled due to the implementation of the pili development project where no less than 608,879 seedlings were distributed for the establishment of pili orchards, rehabilitation of watershed areas and for reforestation (Laysa et. Al, 1998).

Pilinut Production

Bicol is the major producer of pili with a share of 57% of the domestic production. (Fig. 4). In 1998, the regional production was estimated at approximately 9,007 MT. Of the 6 provinces Albay has the highest output with 3,549 MT (40%), followed by Sorsogon with 3,001 MT (33%) and Camarines Sur with 1,207 MT (13%).

Although Bicol remain as leader in pili production we must not stagnate. Note that our production continue to decline (Fig. 6).

Farmer Producer

There are approximately 13, 435 farmers producing pili. Most of these farmers own 5-10 trees with a few others having more than 10 trees. In general the productive trees at present are volunteer growth in the area and grew from seeds. Their dispersal were the work of wild animals which feed on the pili fruits. To our knowledge there are only two pili orchards purposely established by the owner some 2-3 decades ago. One is in Bulusan, Sorsogon where pili is intercropped with coconuts and the other is in Sipocot, Camarines Sur. It is an open area planted to a mixed population of pili cultivars some grown from seedlings and some were grafted.

Germplasm Collected, Nurseries and Scion Groves Established

The regional repository for pili is at Albay Experiment Station, one of the Research Outreach Stations of DA-RFU V. At present there are 819 pili selections planted in the germplasm area, 296 are female where 248 are already productive, 337 are male and 186 are newly planted from last years collections. From the old selections 5 outstanding cultivars have been selected 3 of which are now certified by NSIC as new pili varieties bearing the names Magnaye, Laysa and M. Orolfo (Orolfo E.B. and B.R. Orbase, 1997). The other 2 outstanding selections (Daet No. 1 and Malipo) are under final evaluation and review by NSIC.

Germplasm collection is being sustained in collaboration with the selected LGU's, SUC's and farmer group in order to fast tract the acquisition and domestication of elite cultivars. Selection criteria was formulated in consultation with local processors.

The implementation of the DA-High Value Commercial Crop Development Program and the Pili Development Project in the Bicol Region participated in by DENR, BUCAF and with DA as lead agency facilitated the establishment of 12 nursery sites and 6 scion groves. At present 2 of these scion groves are already source of limited number of scions.

Plant Material Production and Distribution

At the end of the interagency project (PDPB) in 1998 a total of 1,199,074 (1,169,187 seedlings and 29,887 asexually propagated plants) were produced from which 608,879 pieces were distributed to requesting clientele. Henceforth DA-RFU -V single handedly sustained the production of plant materials. If at least 75% of the planting materials distributed are established in the field, an additional area of about 4,566 hectares shall have been planted to pili by now.

Techno-Demo Farms Established

Except for DOST all the implementing agencies of the Pili Development Project in the Bicol Region established techno-demonstration farms showcasing their respective technology highlights. For instance DA focused on the introduction of different cultivars using seedlings and asexually propagated plants through cleft grafting, BUCAF used seedlings and asexual plants through inarching and DENR demonstrated the integration of pili in reforestation using seedlings. By the end of the project 131 techno-demo sites were established throughout the region. DA established 116, DENR 12 and BUCAF 3. Furthermore techno-demo farms established by DA is research based and focused on pili based cropping system.

Pili Trading

Pilinut is marketed in 4 different kind such as: fresh fruits, nuts, fresh and dried kernel and processed. The study of Mirandilla (1995) accounted a total of 256 pili traders. Of this 156 (60.93%) are from Sorsogon, 73 (28.51%) are from Albay and 27 (10.5%) are from Camarines Sur. Some of these traders are also processors. On the average a trader purchase / sell 1.5 MT of pili per year thus, approximately 384 MT of pili is traded in Bicol. With the running price average of P 200 per kilo, the total volume of pili traded would amount to P 76,800,000.

Issues and Problems

Although the pili processing industry has sustained through the years it remained as a cottage industry and family oriented. In the recent benchmark survey conducted by BCARRD (1998) and DA (1999) the following constraints were identified (1) unavailability of superior quality planting materials (2) limited institutional support on production development, (3) lack of pilinut supply, (4) Poor marketing systems, (5) unavailability of cost saving post harvest and processing facilities, (6) high cost of transportation, (7) drastic fluctuation in prices and (8) lack / absence of appropriate credit support to farmer producers.


Desired Industry Situation


Industry Goal

Considering that pili is one commodity which the Philippines can export with competitive advantage. The pili industry must be fully commercialized in areas where there is substantial production (Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Southern Tagalog). Strengthen research on post harvest handling, processing and packaging to come up to international standards. Enhance close networking with various stakeholders to strengthen resource base. Develop efficient marketing system and lobby for legislative support, if necessary, for the industry to receive adequate fund support and protect it from exploitation.

Opportunities

The United States alone imports millions of kilos shelled walnuts and 9 million kilos of shelled almonds. With pili being acclaimed superior if not better to these nuts and if the region can produce products of high quality then pili is sure to replace a significant amount of the US importation of these nut. Pili is also a potential substitute for macadamia, walnut and cashew. At present there is a great demand for nuts whatever kind in Korea, Hongkong, Singapore and Australia (market Profile for HVCC).


Present Initiatives

1. DA Region V - Research (TG, TA, TV)
- Extension - 1,000,000 seedlings
- 66,00 asexually propagated

2. LGU Albay
- Commercial Pili Production with the target of 3,000 hectares.
- Provincial Ordinance 99-015 - Six Years Tax Moratorium for Real Property landowners planting pili in commercial scale.
- Fund allocation for pili development - 20% of economic development fund.

3. LGU Sorsogon
- Executive Order No. 8 series 1999. Creating Sorsogon Provincial Pili Industry Council.
- Rehabilitation of 680 hectares covering 34 barangays province wide.
- Budgetary allocation - P 530,450 for plant material supply at P 15,600 per barangay.

4. ATI - Strengthen training program on Pili Production, Processing and Utilization for LGUs and NGOs.

5. BCARRD - participation of member agencies in the Phase II PIRDP

6. DA-BAR - Inclusion of pili as number 8 sub network under the Philippine RDE Agenda for the modernization of the fruit industry.

7. DOST - Establishment of quality standards for processed products.

8. ITDI - R & D for Packaging Technologies and Post Harvest and Processing equipments.

9. BPRE - BU - R & D on Post Harvest Handling, Processing and Utilization.


_______________________________
References
_____ BAS Production Statistics for KCCDP Priority Crops 1996.

_____ BCARRD 1998. Benchmark Survey of the Pili Industry in the Bicol Region 100 pp.

Coronel, R.E. 1990. Promising Fruit of the Philippines.

Coronel, R.E. and J.C. Zuño 1979. The correlation between some fruit characters of pili. Phil. Agri. 63: 163-165.

Lanuza, E. A. 1970. Pili Culture. Plant Industry Digest 32: 33 (1) 7-11.

Laysa, F.D. et al. 1999. Pili Development Project In The Bicol Region. 106 pp.

Manalo, G. and A.P. West. 1940. Analysis and Composition of Manila elemi. Phil. J. Crp. Sci. 78 (1): 111-120.

Merill, E.D. 1923 An enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants. Bu. of Printing Manila.

Mirandilla, J.A. 1995. The Pilinut Industry in The Bicol Region. Ph.D. Thesis Aquinas University Legaspi City. 186 pp.

Orolfo E. and B.R. Orbase 1997. New Pili Varieties in the Bicol Region. 10 pp.

West, E. P. 1923. The Composition of the Pilinut oil. Phil. Jr. Sci. 23 (3): 269-276.

Zee, F.T. 1993. Rambutan and Pilinuts. Potential crops for Hawaii. P. 461-465. In. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.) New Crops. Willy, New York.


WHY PILI?

1. Indigenous in the Philippines.
2. Produce in commercial scale only in this country
    -globally competitive
    -monopoly of the foreign market
3. Export potential.
   - Pilinut is superior to almond and other nuts.
   - Processed delicacies appeal to consumers, even foreigners.
   - Resin is a known export of the country for many years with
     medicinal and industrial uses.
4. Pili is non-perishable.
   - 1 year storability under normal condition.
5. Plays a significant role in the economy of Bicol.
   - 13,435 farmers benefited
   - 256 traders-processors involved.
   - Significant number indirectly involved in the industry.
6. Environment friendly
   - Prevents erosion.
   - Act as wind breakers.
   - Provide shelter for wildlife
   - Aesthetic value
7. It is the flagship crop of Bicol.