SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ - “Tangan-tangan”, the shrub that old folks used to plant in the yard for medicinal and lighting purposes, now holds a promise for economic gains in Nueva Ecija, particularly, and other places in the country. It is the “in plant” now, after the unlamented jatropha created quite a stir and a big expense for its programmed wide-scale planting in the country but headed to a flop.
Jatropha was determined lately by authorities as not highly feasible as a source for biodiesel production.
Tangan-tangan, which appears to be a relative of jatropha, is a mile different from the latter.
“Essentially, its seed is a source of castor oil. The plant is known elsewhere in the world as the castor-oil plant,” Dr. Eliseo Ruiz, chief executive officer of the Organic Castor Bean Production Project here, said.
(The scientific name of the plant is Ricinus communis).
He said the beans to be produced under the project will be exported to the People’s Republic of China (PROC). He added that China has processing plants for the seeds but in short supply of the raw material. The unfavorable weather condition for the growing of the plants in that country hobbles seed production.
Thus, PROC needs to import castor-oil beans, Ruiz said.
Purgative buy deadly
In the country, old folks use a limited number of seeds of “tangan-tangan”as purgative, the roots and barks for skin diseases and burn, and the oil for lamps. Old folks say that 72 castor-oil seeds stringed together can be enough for use the whole night as a source of light.
The seeds, though, of tangan-tangan is highly poisonous. It is one of the deadliest seeds in the world.
“The oil content of the castor-oil bean is up to 55 percent,” “It is processed for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, lubricants in aviation and space flight field, detergent, plastic and thousands more of products after deep processing,” Ruiz said.
The Castor-oil Bean Production Project is under the auspices of the Central Luzon State University Alumni Foundation, Inc. (CAFI) of which Ruiz is the president.
“We have a contract with the Richfund International Corporation which will buy and market the seeds,” Ruiz said. “In fact, the corporation has already provided us with hybrid seeds from China and the funds for production and technical supervision,” he added.
An official of the First Isabela Coop. Rural Bank (FICO Bank) in Cabanatuan City indeed said that the funds intended for the project are ready.
Ruiz said that the project will not compete with food production as the lands being leased are marginal areas.
About 200 hectares of hilly areas leased to the project are now planted to tangan-tangan. They are in Laur, Bongabon, Rizal, and Gen. Tinio towns and Palayan City in Nueva Ecija.
“We are looking for at least 800 hectares more in Nueva Ecija to be planted with tangan-tangan this year,” Ruiz said. “We will lease the land or will partner with interested entrepreneurs,” he added.
Ruiz said that hybrid seeds of tangan-tangan enough for planting in several hectares of land have already arrived. They are now kept at the Research Seed Bank in CLSU. “We are also hiring farmers who are paid daily and assured of certain percentage in the net profit,” Ruiz added.
Already hired are 300 farmers and several technicians trained to assist the farmers. Ruiz said that the tangan-tangan is a shrub whose productive life is four to five years and flowers at 50 days after planting.
The spiny fruit capsules, each containing three carpels each with single seed, appear in bunches in succession. One hectare of the shrub can produce from 12,000 to 25,000 kilograms of seeds per year, he added.
At buying price of P13 per kg, the gross per hectare is a low of P156,000 and a high of P325,000.
“A net of at least P106,0000 and a high of P265,000 can be obtained as production cost is from P50,000 to P60,000 per hectare only,” Ruiz said.
He said that organic fertilizers are used for the growing of the plants.
Ruiz said that as it is the CAFI which undertakes the project, the proceeds from the project will be used as grants for research and development, scholarships, and other academic pursuits. He further explained that the farmers, technicians, and others involved in the project will have percentage shares from the net profit.
Engr. Teofilo T. Vergara (BSAEn ’66), former National Food Authority official who is also a resident of this city, is the chief operating officer of the project. Also involved in the project are professors of the Central Luzon State University as well as active retired professors who serve as members of the Technical Management Group that focus on various aspects of the project such as research and development, management, supervision, social program and others.