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Rapidly gaining popularity, togue as it is known locally, is a major ingredient of many food recipes offered in restaurants and even in the home kitchens. This is produced by germinating mungbean or mungo seeds for three or more days and sold both in local and in the super markets, according to a research conducted by Ma. Cecilia C. Gatbonton, now a faculty member of the Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU). Many of us relish the lumpiangprito, the ginisangtogue and the empanada which contain mungo sprouts with other ingredients.

LSPU’s involvement in sprout vegetable research all started with the work of Gatbonton as a scholar of the Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture when she pursued her master’s degree at the Graduate Studies and Applied Research of the University with her thesis on mungbean sprouts as a pioneering study in the Philippines.

Gatbonton’s study has actually paved the way for intensified research in this particular commodity that is now becoming an identity (or brand) commodity of the University. LSPU President, Dr. Nestor M. De Vera, agrees with this insight from the faculty and in fact, he has provided initial funding for a survey of sprout producers in CALABARZON recently.For his part, the Research Director of the University, Dr. Robert Agatep, declared that he would like to see their effort “consistent with the vision of the University, our efforts in the sprouting research and development will be intensified so that LSPU will become a more significant partner in addressing the needs for the sustainable development of the sprout vegetable industry”.

At the rate that LSPU is working on this commodity, it will not be far from now thatit would carve a niche as a center for sprout vegetable research and development in the country

that all sprout producers whom she interviewed make use of an imported yellow mungo variety from China for sprout or togue production. Her trials involving 10 varieties also revealed that a local variety, Pag-asa 3, could match the sprouting characteristics of the imported one. Both varieties are small seeded.

In one of her earlier studies, Gatbonton revealed As to the survey in the region spearheaded by Gatbonton herself with coresearchers Cornelio Molon, Robert Agatep and LolitaBeato,21 mungbean sprout producers indicated their sprout enterprise is their primary source of income and they have been in the business for no less than 10 years. Their knowledge on mungbean sprout production was just based on experience. Most of them were not able to go beyond secondary education and all have not attended any seminar on sprout production. Aside from family members, most of the producers hire laborers to assist themin producing the sprouts.

“The volume of production ranges from 1.5 to 300 kilograms of mungbean seeds per cycle. All of the producers are using the small, yellow mungbean seed variety which is being marketed mostly by the Filipino-Chinese traders”.

The demand, but not the price, for sprouts is being influenced by the season of the year, increase in the prices of local vegetables, and the customs and traditions of the people. The major problems of the mungbean sprout producers, according to the group’s report, are the high price of imported mungbean seeds, spoilage of sprouts due to poor mungbean seed quality and contamination, and the imminent competition with the Filipino-Chinese traders who also control the supply and prices of imported mungbean seeds.

It is recommended based on their report thatmungbean sprout producers must be organized and be extended with appropriate trainings and assistance by concerned agencies and entities in order to improve their status and productivity. Likewise, an intensive local production program on high quality mungbean seeds should be initiated to lessen the dependence upon imported varieties.

As an offshoot of her researches, the private sector has come into the picture. For instance, one entrepreneur in Quezon City is busy developing a sprouting machine with the group’s technical assistance.

Indeed, it may not be far from now that LSPU may someday become the sprout vegetable center given the support of the group of Gatbonton and the gesture of University President De Vera in the implementation of the project.

by: Carlos J. Andam

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