AUGUST 12, 2008
(STAR) By Helen Flores - The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Bicol Region has developed a simple method of producing nutritious oil from pili nut (Canarium ovatum) pulp.

The process of extracting oil from freshly harvested pili nuts uses minimal heat and simple cooking and filtration tools, the DOST said in a statement.

“Because the process retains the aroma and natural green color of pili pulp, the resulting oil can be considered of premium or virgin quality,” the DOST said.

Laboratory tests showed that the oil produced by the process has a very low free fatty acid (FFA) content of 0.06 percent and moisture content (MC) of only 0.04 percent, which favors a longer shelf life of the product, the DOST said.

“Chemical and nutritional analyses of pili pulp oil are very similar to olive oil. However, pili pulp oil has more beta-carotene, a known vitamin A source, and carotenoids, which makes it more nutritious than olive oil,” the agency said.

The DOST regional office has initiated the development of the technology as an alternative to the process introduced by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna, which uses enzymes in extraction and chemicals in refining pili pulp oil.

“This technology (introduced by the UPLB), while more efficient, is rather complicated and requires substantial investment and may not be suitable in a micro or village scale pilinut-processing venture,” the DOST said.

DOST said the introduction of the “manual” technology generated renewed interest among local stakeholders and is paving the way for the establishment of the pili pulp oil production industry in Sorsogon.

At present, raw pili pulp oil sells at P100 per liter, it said.

In support of the industry’s development, DOST 5 is currently working to develop technologies on mechanical extraction and other non-chemical approach in oil refining, the DOST said.

Using manual extraction, the technology was tested using different varieties of pili obtained from different areas in Sorsogon province. Oil yield, computed as percentage by weight of whole fresh pili nut, varies widely and is clearly associated with the variety of pili nut. However, the maximum yield recorded so far is about six percent, which translates to about 65 ml/kg of fresh whole nuts, the agency explained.

“Establishing the differences in oil yield requires further study. But oil recovery is expected to increase if a suitable mechanical pulp press or extractor becomes available,” it said.

According to DOST, pili oil has always been featured in traditional medicines and herbal remedies in the Bicol region where it abounds.

Pili oil is being used by locals in treating skin diseases such as scabies and de-worming capability for livestock such as pigs and chicken, it said.

It is also used in food, health and cosmetic applications by local organic groups, the DOST said.

“Some groups that advocate and promote organic products reportedly believe in the potential health benefits of pili pulp oil, which they claim could equal or even surpass that of virgin coconut oil,” the DOST said.

According to reports, there are at least six regions in the Philippines where pili is known to be produced. These are Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao and Caraga.

Of the six regions, Bicol has the largest number of productive trees representing 71.5 percent; Southern Tagalog, nine percent; Western and Eastern Visayas, 18.5 percent; while Southern Mindanao and the Caraga regions share the remaining one percent.

In Bicol, most of these trees are found in Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

In 1998, total pili production in the country was estimated at 9,007 metric tons.

Albay is the major pili-producing province which accounted for 3,549 MT (40 percent), followed by Sorsogon 3,001 MT (33 percent) and Camarines Sur 1,207 MT (13 percent), reports said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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