Assessment of The Pili Industry
In The Bicol Region
Estela B. Orolfo Ph. D. -Retired
( Paper presented in the Crop Congress during the Agri-Fiesta
Sa Bikol 2000 at the UNC Sports Palace, Naga City on Sept. 5,
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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
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).
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
3. LGU Sorsogon
- Executive Order No. 8 series 1999. Creating Sorsogon Provincial
Pili Industry Council.
- Rehabilitation of 680 hectares covering 34 barangays province
- 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
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
_____ 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.
1. Indigenous in the Philippines.
2. Produce in commercial scale only in this country
-monopoly of the foreign market
3. Export potential.
- Pilinut is superior to almond and other nuts.
- Processed delicacies appeal to consumers,
- 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
6. Environment friendly
- Prevents erosion.
- Act as wind breakers.
- Provide shelter for wildlife
- Aesthetic value
7. It is the flagship crop of Bicol.