Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Growing demand for Manila elemi a big boost to Bicol's pili industry
By Danny O. Calleja

PILI, Camarines Sur, March 10 (PNA) – Bicol’s pili industry is expecting a big boost from the growing worldwide demand for the resin extracted from its trunk called Manila elemi.

The demand comes largely from the perfumery industry that use this substance as a fixative agent in the manufacture of most signature brands of perfume like Gucci, Dior Homme Sport for Men, Marc Jacobs Bang for Men, Donna Karan DKNY Women, Revlon Pink Happiness for Women, Ralph Lauren Extreme Polo for Men and dozens more.

Some industrial firms also use Manila elemi as a pharmaceutical component and as ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks.

France imports this pili product from the Philippines for its limonene content that is evident as fragrance component in luxury perfumes while Germany uses it for pharmaceutical purposes.

The Manila Elemi Oil extracted from the resin is used by known cosmetic brands like Chanel Ultra Correction Lift as anti-ageing, skin rejuvenating and moisturizing agent, being one of the best and premium cosmetic grade, food grade and pharmaceutical grade oils in the world.

Philippines is listed by the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades as the sole source of the Manila elemi resin that the country exports in raw form.

Arsenio Ella, a scientist of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, said here during a recent gathering of Bicol’s pili industry stakeholders that the softer, whiter and cleaner, and has more premium is the grade of the gum resin.

Its aromatic scent can be described as pale yellow liquid with fresh, lemony, peppery, balsam, green, woody, sweet and spicy odor, he said.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Executive Director for Bicol Abelardo Bragas based here on Tuesday said the gathering was for the reorganization of the region’s Pili Industry Board (PIB) attended by 40 representatives of pili growers, pili product producers' cooperatives and exporters from the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Masbate.

The DA regional Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) initiated the reorganization of the board in the light of opportunities and challenges brought by the ASEAN Economic Community integration and the growing demand for pili products not only as a food commodity but also for its industrial uses.

The newly reorganized PIB has vowed to revitalize the industry by working on more growing of pili trees by farmers and landowners to address the dwindling supply of nuts, elemi and pulp oil occasioned by the growing domestic and international demand, Bragas said.

Rosita Imperial, DA’s regional High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) chief, said the board’s program for improvement would be in line with the roadmap of the pili industry formulated by the agriculture department which has adopted pili as the regional flagship commodity of Bicol.

Pili products that have been capturing both the local and international markets include confectioneries, making it the favorite take home items among tourists and visitors, and the newly-developed pili pulp oil -- which like elemi is now also being used by multi-national companies such as Olay Fragrance, Chanel France and Christian Dior as base for their perfume collections, Imperial said.

Locally made pili pulp oil is now becoming a popular and an inexpensive alternative to olive oil which was first developed after a few years of research by Bicolana entrepreneur Minda Yee of Sorsogon City who perfected the proper way of extracting pili pulp oil for culinary, pharmaceutical and cosmetic uses.

To boost Yee’s production capability, the DOST has also initiated the development of the technology as an alternative to the process introduced by National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, which uses enzymes in extraction and chemicals in refining pili pulp oil.

Now a much-sought after raw material by largest cosmetics companies here and abroad for its high level contents of carotenoids and Vitamin E, there is also now a locally-produced pili oil-based lipstick that protects the lips from dryness and cracks, Imperial said.

Studies made by scientists from the University of Guelph in Canada and the Philippines' DOST recently reported proteins in pili are good for the heart too while oil extracted from the pulps and kernels can be used as cooking oil, fuel oil for lamps and for making insect repellants, moisturizers and perfumes.

Also rich in phosphorous, calcium, protein, and potassium, the pili nut is a good alternative to the expensive pine nut in pesto sauce and can be thrown into all kinds of breads, pastries and sautéed food.

Pili is indigenous to the Philippines and produced mainly in Bicol and five other regions -- Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Caraga, Western Visayas and Southern Mindanao.

In Bicol pili plays a significant role in the economy as it provides additional income to some 14,000 farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters.

The pili-processing industry also generates employment to scores of people such as the traders, processors, assemblers, factory workers, store keepers and others offering miscellaneous services related to the industry.

Others call pili "The Majestic Tree" owing to its many economic uses.

Every part of the tree -- from the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, sap and fruit -- is valuable. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/