By ANTONIO G. PAPA, Ph.D.

In support to the surmounted challenges for kaong stakeholders, the Cavite State University (CvSU) in Indang, Cavite has established the Sugar Palm Research, Information and Trade (SPRINT) Center in 2010.

(Read about Kaong: a tree of hope)

The SPRINT Center serves as the nucleus for the implementation of the University Research, Development and Extension (RDE) Program and Agenda for Sugar Palm that seeks to develop a sustainable, equitable and environment-friendly sugar palm industry in Indang, Cavite and nearby communities.

It was envisioned for the “improvement of the quality of life of its various stakeholders and the maintenance of the ecological balance in the municipality’s riparian ecosystem.”

Humble beginnings

Prior to the year 2000, CvSU has embarked on sporadic research undertakings on sugar palm. In June 2006, CvSU started to implement a three-year project funded by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) called CvSU–Indang LGU Kaong Nursery and Palm Grove Conservation Project.

In August 2007, CvSU conducted the first kaong planting activity as part of a program called Bringing Kaong Back (BKB): Isang Sama-samang Pagtatanim. In December 2009, CvSU started implementing a study titled “Assessment of Biodiversity and Natural Regeneration Pattern of Kaong [Arenga pinnata (Wurmb) Merr] in the Riparian Ecosystems of Upland Cavite” with funding from CHED. The study was recognized as third best paper and first best poster during the CHED Regional Symposium.

In January 2010, CvSU started implementing Sugar Palm Nursery, Palm Grove Conservation, and Product Development Project: Phase II, with funding from the LGU Indang and the source of planting materials for the scheduled annual planting of the commodity.

The BKB was adjudged as best extension project of CvSU during the Agency Extension In-House Review conducted in July 2010. In September 2010, CvSU forged a MOA with De La Salle Health Science Institute (DLS-HIS) and Lasallian Institute of the Environment (LIFE) for the implementation of BKB. The SPRINT Center was born in December 2010 under the leadership of CvSU President, Dr. Divinia C. Chavez. 

Extension services

In January 2011, Dr. Lorenzo C. Lapitan, Jr. was designated as SPRINT Center director and the SPRINT Center organizational structure was operationalized. From then on, training programs were offered to various stakeholders, consultancy services were done for free among sugar palm stakeholders, and the kaong or sugar palm yearly planting was done.

Likewise, visits to the Center and CvSU of various groups of clientele––both local and foreign guests––were entertained. Lectures and reading materials were also provided to the guests.

Commercial production of brown sugar

Researchers from CvSU have come up with two products derived from the sap of kaong––kaong brown sugar and kaong syrup, which are considered desirable because they are said to have low glycemic index, hence, more suitable for consumption by people who are diabetic.

Previously, farmers from Indang––where the palm abounds––made vinegar out of the sap of the sugar palm. The new products fetch a higher price than vinegar so the farmers can make bigger income from their palm trees’ products.

Technicians of the CvSU–SPRINT have been teaching the farmers how to make brown sugar and syrup out of the kaong sap,so they can make their own brown sugar and syrup for sale or for home use.

The staff of the Center are supervising the commercial production of brown sugar by the Queenstown Farm in Tambo, Indang, Cavite and the Magallanes Women’s Club Multipurpose Cooperative in Magallanes, Cavite.

DOST’s commercialization permit

Dr. Fortunato Dela Peña, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), approved the permit for Cavite State University (CvSU) in Indang, Cavite to commercialize the kaong brown sugar.

Kaong brown sugar, a product of the CvSU’s SPRINT Center, is recommended as a healthier alternative or substitute to table sugar especially for people afflicted with diabetes.

The permit to commercialize was released after the DOST Regional Office IV-A submitted a favorable Fairness Opinion Report (FOR) to the Office of the DOST Secretary.

As such, the license to adopt the technology and commercialize kaong brown sugar was granted to the Magallanes Women’s Club Multipurpose Cooperative, the lead agency in promoting the Magallanes’ one-town-one-product––the muscovado sugar industry of the province of Cavite.

Kaong Capital of the Philippines

Kaong trees thrives well in Indang and its neighboring upland towns of Alfonso, Amadeo, General Aguinaldo, Magallanes, and Silang.

Indang, a first-class agritourism municipality, is centrally located in the highlands of Cavite and has been known as the “Kaong Capital of the Philippines,” since countless kaong plants are planted along several rivers and springs that abound in the locality.

The SPRINT Center of the Cavite State University is a leading center that cares for the riparian communities where the residents are hoping to alleviate their living standards through the Kaong livelihood program.

(Read about Kaong: a tree of hope)

CvSU SPRINT Center serves as the nucleus for the implementation of its Research, Development and Extension (RDE) Program and Agenda for Kaong. It seeks to develop a sustainable, equitable, and environment–friendly kaong industry in Indang, Cavite and its suburbs.

Photos by Antonio G. Papa, Ph.D