Ubi- Still Saving Lives

Created on Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ubi saved thousands of Boholanos during the second world war and continues to do so today.

It was said that during those times, the major food staple which is rice and corn were ravaged and so the people   fed themselves on what abounded and survived in the field.

The sacredness of the crop must have been attributed to the thousands of lives it had saved during the war and no wonder, the ancient folk kiss the crop when it falls to the ground. For them the crop was instrumental of their existence as a people . Planting ubi is an age-long tradition and not just a mere symbol. Rufino Salas of San Isidro, Duero, Bohol,   believes that the tradition must never die. He said he plants ubi not because of its profitability but because he believes the crop has become an identity to the Boholanos.

Today , ubi remains a treasured crop not only to the Boholanos but to the Filipinos as well. Its demand has reached the discriminating taste of  Europeans, which caused the need to surge both nationally and internationally. According to Director Angel Enriquez of the Department of Agriculture (DA RFU 7), a chef from Europe specifically ordered for ubi kinampay from Bohol which is an excellent ingredient for pastries.

Nothing beats the taste of the ubi in Bohol, crop  specialists attributes its aroma and taste to the agro-climatic condition of Bohol, citing that if you plant the same ubi in another part in the Philippines, it wont give you the same taste and aroma as the home-grown ubi in Bohol .

Indeed , ubi has become an important crop due to its many usage- it is a major ingredient for confectionary products, ice creams and as a natural food coloring. It can also be processed into flour, powder, flakes or dehydrated yam. With the demand soaring every year , the  estimated current  demand reaches 49,000 tons annually.

The search of the biggest and heaviest ubi  in this year’s festival is the Provincial Government’s initiative to lure more growers to meet the growing demand . Ubi’s come in different shapes, sizes and hues were displayed in booths for the public to appreciate it. Varieties such as kinampay, baligonhon, kot , bot, lima-lima, apale, binanag, kabus-ok and iniling varieties were displayed for ubi enthusiasts.  Products made from ubi were also a delight to the drooling sightseers, such as the world –famous ‘calamay.’

DA OIC-Regional Executive Director and Governor Edgar Chatto leads the Rice Pledge during the launching of the NYR during the ubi festival.
A ‘pinaka contest’ highlighted the ubi festival in Bohol, showcasing various varieties.

The crop’s contribution for centuries has been overwhelming, a reason for the institutionalization of the “Ubi Festival” in Bohol.  During this year’s festival,  Governor Edgardo Chatto took pride in introducing Bohol as the epicenter of the ubi industry in the country. To this,  DA Director, Angel Enriquez, pledged a  P4M support for  research aimed to preserve the characterisitics of ubi .

Going beyond tradition, is ubi’s present role in food staple sufficiency. Identified as one of the major crops that will help the region in its goal towards food staple sufficiency in 2013, the region believes it is  high time to advocate for the propagation of ubi in Central Visayas as substitute for rice and corn- the main staple of the region.

Included in the  national ‘Food  Staple Self-Sufficiency Roadmap (FSSR),’ ubi is one of the  crop that is  aimed to increase its production  by 3.5% annually.

Being a net importer of rice , with a rice sufficiency level tagged at 28.85 this year, it necessitates the DA to tap ubi as an alternative source of staple food so as to abate the regional demand for rice.

True to its commitment , the DA through the Bohol Experiment Station , plans to distribute some 3,000 pieces of planting materials to Cebu  and Siquijor this year, hopefully to augment and answer  the growing need of the crop.

The role of ubi in the food staple sufficiency program of  the DA and its demand in the industries has  made it a crop of much importance- so important that it continues to  save lives today.

Booths during the ubi festival in Bohol last January 23-25, 2013 , were one of the attractions at Bohol Plaza.