‘Mama Sita Makopa’ offers new opportunity for local star ruby growth.
By Yvette Tan
When we think of Mama Sita, we think of delicious sauces and mixes that have enabled harried homemakers to cook quick, delicious, and budget-friendly family meals. The brand is also synonymous with giving Filipino overseas workers a taste of home.
Not a lot of people know that the well-loved brand is also a champion of Philippine agriculture via the Mama Sita Foundation (MSF), whose main goal is the support and promotion of Philippine heritage and agricultural sustainability.
One of MSF’s projects is the development of the star ruby, a cultivar of the fruit commonly known as makopa (Syzygium malaccense). The makopa is seedless, crunchy, and has a neural taste.
Rediscovering the Makopa
MSF partnered with PCARRD and Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. to introduce fruit cultivars from different countries in order for local farmers and agricultural enthusiasts to grow for mass production.
The project report, authored by Benito S. Vergara, Felipe S. dela Cruz, Jr., and Bert Lapus, stated that:
“Four rooted cuttings of Star Ruby from Bangkok, Thailand were introduced on February 9, 2007. The cuttings were transplanted in 80-liter containers, grown under full sun in Los Baños.
“The plants were evaluated for their growth, productivity, taste of the fruits and comparability to the Thai-grown crop.”
Easy to Grow
Results were as follows:
“The transplanted plants had vigorous growth. By January 13, 2009 or 22 months of growth, the plants flowered. On April 30, 2009 or 75 days after flowering, the first fruits were harvested.
“The fruits were comparable to Thai-grown makopa. The excellent quality and flavor was acceptable by the Board of Trustees of the MSF that they decided to name it ‘Mama Sita Makopa.’
“The fruiting ‘Mama Sita Makopa’ is less than two meeters tall with pinkinsh young leaves, oblong, and pointed. The ruby colored fruits are seedless, flesh white, juicy, crispy and not spongy; and pleasant mild taste (sic). The average size of the 2009 October-November harvest is 7.9 cm long and 6.2 cm in diameter. Average weight of the fruit is 118.3 grams. There is no curled remnant of the corolla where ants usually stay.
“Even before flowering, branches of ‘Mama Sita Makopa’ were marcotted as it appeared a sure winner. The plant is very easy to propagate by marcotting and cuttings. Since then, more than a hundred seedlings have been sold and are now being sold in plant nurseries. Large scale plantings have been made.
“The same experimental trees were sprayed with pachlobutrasol on July 22, 2009. Flower buds appeared 49 days later (September 9, 2009). First fruits were harvested in November 2009 or 60 days after full opening of the flowers.”
Clara Lapus, President of the Mama Sita Foundation, adds, “The makopa needs further study and I hope that (we) can encourage agronomist to experiment on how to control the fruit flies that attack the fruit. I heard that DOST has funds to fund such research at 0% interest (from Land Bank) which might interest agri-entrepreneurial students who want to earn from growing macopas.”
Those interested to grow them can order from Mama Sita Foundation the marcotted rooted seedlings, but they have to commit to get their ordered rooted seedlings which will be ready within 1-2 months. All they have to do is plant the seedling in soil and they can grow their own mother plant and do their own marcotting.
For more information, visit the Mama Sita Foundation.