Passing through

By Jimmy K. Laking

Nothing teary with Job’s Tears

The search for the ideal health food never fails to amaze me.  

Many had seen how it is to be poor.  In Siargao where politicians are a life apart, one standard table fare was ‘calibre con ginamos’ which is boiled cassava dipped in fish sauce.

The less-privileged also speak of ‘target’ or plain salt which goes with plain rice or cassava, no more no less. 

In Davao City in 2016, University of the Philippines professor Dr. Eufemio Rasco,Jr. recommended that people should be eating less rice and should be settling  more for sweet potato (kamote) and cassava instead.

To begin with, he said, rice production continued to sustain inequality whereby majority of the rice farmers are poor while the few rice industry players are rich.

He added that rice farmers also tended to suffer from poor nutrition and poor health, occupational hazards and handicapped by low levels of mechanization.  

What are the effects of eating rice on the body? The professor said that once rice becomes glucose, it affects the skin, brain, arteries, blood pressure, nerve pressure, nerve cells, kidneys, eyes, bones and virility itself.

He described white rice, pan de sal and white bread as the worst while sweet potato and cassava are the best.

Arguably, the one gaining cereal that is gaining acceptance as a powerhouse grain these days is adlai (adlay). It is also known as Chinese pearl barley or Job’s Tears, because it bears tear-like shaped grains.  It is a staple food to the Subanens of the Zamboanga.

It actually belongs to the grass family with long stalks that can be mistaken for a corn.

I have heard about it over the past years. But it was not until then 10th Infantry Battalion Commander Maj. General Jose Feliciano mentioned about it over coffee with National Anti-Poverty Commission chair Noel K. Felongco in December last year that my curiosity was aroused.

Feliciano, now the commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, told his visitors led by Felongco that he has long since stopped eating rice after he learned that he was diabetic.

Fortunately, he said, he has stumbled upon adlai as an alternative grain and has not regretted the decision.  Indeed, one look at the general showed he was physically and mentally fit.

In Davao City, one of the leading advocates is Davao Region Agriculture Cooperative mainstay Jovito Cadigal.

His August 24, 2020 report to DA regional director Engr. Ricardo M. Onate, Jr. was an eye-opener and it proves how one segment in the agricultural industry is taking adlai production seriously. In a nutshell, the report reveals:

  • That adlai is a super-food rich that is chiefly known to lower sugar.
  • That it is gluten-free and can be a staple food and that its by-products included pastries, wine, cakes and pastil.
  • That it has high nutritional values as compared to rice or corn.  
  • That the crop is grown in farms in Bukidnon, the Cotabato provinces and the Davao provinces by individual farmers or through partnerships with cooperatives and local government units.
  • That demand for adlai as a health food is growing while more and more farms are growing the crop.

Who knows what the industry will be in the next five years?  From all indications, adlai production may yet hold the key in helping strengthen agriculture as the backbone of the economy in Mindanao.  With coconut production wallowing in the doldrums, Adlai production in the meantime has taken more than a foothold. It is a crop to reckon with.  Adlai be with you. (30)

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