FROM WASTE TO WEALTH: DEVELOPING NEW PRODUCTS FROM ONION LEAVES
FROM WASTE TO WEALTH: DEVELOPING NEW PRODUCTS FROM ONION LEAVES
MANAGING AGRICULTURAL WASTE continues to be one of the key challenges in the agriculture sector; it accumulates as more crops are being grown to produce food for the growing population.
RITA T. DELA CRUZ

Agricultural waste could be an untapped biomass resource that can ease the country’s environmental burden or source of profit if converted into new and valuable products.

There is a need to make onion farmers more competitive so that they can produce more and eventually earn more. To do this, strategies such as adopting new farming technologies and techniques to lower the production costs and increase farm yields of the local onion farmers are necessary.

In response, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has embarked on various initiatives to protect the country’s onion industry. Specifically for the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the national research arm of DA, it was tasked to spearhead research initiatives on how to make the most out of onion leaves that are usually considered waste materials after the harvest season. BAR will look into the possibility if onion leaves can be dehydrated and used as ingredients in popular Filipino dishes such as arroz caldo, mami; and as a spice in Oriental dishes.

ONION LEAVES AS WASTE

Onion (Allium cepa) is an important crop that is highly-valued for its flavor, nutrients, and medicinal properties. No dish will ever taste the same without that distinct flavor and aroma of onion.

AGRICULTURE MONTHLY

In 2016, the Philippines ranked 70th among the 150 countries in the world, producing 122,595 tons of onions. China, India, and Egypt are the top three producing countries (FAO Statistical Database, 2016).

In the Philippines, Nueva Ecija continues to be the top onion producer, accounting for at least more than half of the country’s production. The onion varieties commonly planted are red onion, yellow or white onion, and shallot. The Philippines’ onion exports, mainly consisting of the red shallot type, are mostly coming from Nueva Ecija.

Onions are harvested manually by pulling out the mature bulbs. After harvesting the bulbs, the onion roots and leaves become waste. Due to lack of proper disposal of organic waste, the accumulation of large quantities of organic wastes has become a challenge.

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January 2020