By Julio P. Yap Jr.

The municipality of San Mateo in the province of Isabela is blessed to have a terrain which is basically plain, and a Sta. Rita clay loam soil type that is suited for lowland crops, particularly mungbean or munggo.

Because of these characteristics, San Mateo’s economy depends largely on agriculture, where 89.66 percent or 10,813 hectares are devoted to agriculture, out of the municipality’s total land area of 12,156 hectares. Of the 10,813 hectares, some 7,358 hectares are devoted to munggo production, where the average yield is 1,000 kilograms per hectare, making mungbean the “Black Gold of San Mateo” and the primary one-town, one-product (OTOP) of the municipality.

Aside from the production of munggo, which provided an additional income source for the farmers, members of different local women organizations have also started processing mungbean into different products like butchi, empanada, munggo pulvoron, pancit balatong, chips, yema, coffee, and flour.

A farmer while harvesting mungbean pods in San Mateo.

According to San Mateo Mayor Crispina R. Agcaoili, these products are already available in the market at very affordable prices, giving the local residents livelihood opportunities. She added that the mission of the local government is to sustain and improve agriculture in order to make the inhabitants economically sufficient, and establish ecologically balanced and well-structured environment.

The efforts of the municipality of San Mateo will greatly improve the supply of mungbean in the country because local munggo production falls short of its annual domestic requirement with a selfsufficiency ratio of only about 52 percent.

The Munggo FIESTA in San Mateo, which is dubbed the “Mungbean Capital of the Philippines,” was spearheaded by the Cagayan Valley Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development (CVAARRD) Consortium.

According to Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) acting executive director Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, the country is dependent on imports mainly from Myanmar, China, Indonesia and Thailand to fill in the gap of our annual domestic requirement of around 65,000 metric tons.

In a message delivered for him by Marita A. Carlos, director of the Applied Communication Division (ACD) of PCAARRD during the Mungbean Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) recently held in San Mateo, Ebora attributed low mungbean production to certain concerns such as shortage of quality seeds of improved and adaptable varieties, absence of seed support system, and farmers’ lack of technical knowledge and skills.

A flowering mungbean plant in a demo farm in San Mateo.

Faced by these constraints, Ebora said the DOST-PCAARRD, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, state colleges and universities like the Isabela State University (ISU), Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU), other national and local government, and private institutions, came up with the Mungbean Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) to support the ailing industry.

Ebora said that among the S&T interventions seen as necessary to support the industry include the development, promotion, and distribution of improved varieties, organization and accreditation of farmer-seed growers, establishment of techno-demo farms, development of integrated pest management strategy, and development of new products derived from mungbean.

Identified as the focus of these S&T interventions under the Mungbean ISP are the four major mungbean producing regions in the country, namely: Region 2 (Cagayan Valley); Region 3 (Central Luzon); Region 6 (Western Visayas); and Region 11 (Davao Region).

According to Ebora, the goal is to increase the volume of quality seeds for planting, additional and expansion areas for new and improved varieties, implementing a mungbean package of technology (POT), and increasing national average yield from 0.72 metric ton per hectare to 1 metric ton per hectare.

During the Mungbean FIESTA, attendees included Mayor Agcaoili, Vice Mayor Roberto C. Agcaoili, ISU president Dr. Ricmar P. Aquino, DOST-2 Regional Director Sancho A. Mabborang, CVAARRD consortium director Dr. William C. Medrano, DA Regional Director Lorenzo M. Caranguian, and Carlos of the ACD-PCAARRD.

Mungbean or San Mateo’s “black gold” is one of the priority commodities of the DOST-PCAARRD under its Industry Strategic Program because of its economic importance and one of the cheapest sources of protein in the Filipino diet.

Mungbean (Vignaradiata L.), as a focus commodity of PCAARRD, is locally known as munggo or balatong, which are small green legumes grown widely for human consumption. It is the main ingredient in making hopiang munggo, and the local soup called ginisang munggo.

It is a popular alternative to meat for vegetarians and those on strict budget since it packs a lot of protein, and is also high in potassium, fiber, magnesium and B vitamins. Mungbean is one of the priority commodities of the DOST-PCAARRD under its Industry Strategic Program because of its economic importance and being one of the cheapest sources of protein in the Filipino diet.

Mungbean is a short maturing crop (65-70 days) and plays an important role in crop diversification as cash crop, intercrop, and as a rotation crop of rice and corn. It is likewise a soil fertility enhancing crop (N-fixing and source of green manure), and also a drought-tolerant/climate change resilient crop.

With the commitment of PCAARRD, mungbean cannot be considered as a poor man’s crop and diet anymore.

PCAARRD says it will continue to support the National Mungbean R&D Program with its partners, and not only on joint R&D but also on human resources development and training, technical assistance, exchange of scientists, and information and technologies.

The agency added that it will continue to develop and promote the adoption of science-based know-how and tools that will enable the agricultural sector to raise productivity to world-class standards.

PCAARRD envisions that we will be self-sufficient on our requirements for mungbean and our empowered farmers will be change agents, adopters of package of technology options and advocates of scientific mungbean farming.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2018 issue.