Saturday, May 18Food Security Matters

Batuan Farming for Profit: How to Plant and Grow Batwan

Batuan farming is something the majority of Filipinos never heard about unless they are living in the Visayas, especially in Negros Occidental where it is a very important cooking ingredient.

Batuan or Batwan (scientific name: Garcinia binucao), or Binucao in Tagalog, is a wild tree that grows between 10 to 25 meters. Its fruit is used as the main souring agent in Negros cuisine. It is also used in parts of Panay, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, and Guimaras islands, and other parts of the Philippines with the Ilonggo (Hiligaynon) population.  Batuan has a very distinct flavor. Due to the popularity of online shopping, Batuan is now available all over the Philippines.

Batuan farming

Batuan Uses

Batuan’s primary use is as a souring agent, especially for tinola, paksiw, nilaga (linaga), and other Negrense soups. The original chicken inasal in Bacolod uses Batuan as one of the main recipes for the cause and marinating agent.  Although raw green fruit is always used, there are also powdered, ground syrup, and juice in bottles. The yellowish ripe fruit can also be eaten fresh and its leaves can be brewed to make tea.

Batuan Health Benefits

Batuan for Prevention of Diabetes

In the 2017 Regional Invention Contest and Exhibit (RICE), student researchers Leann Patrice Ganzon and Anne Nicole Occeña, both in Grade 10 in a Special Science Class at the Iloilo National High School, looked at the therapeutic potential of batuan in preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus and their study was judged the best in Western Visayas for Student Creative Research for High School.

The study found that the leaf and fruit of batuan are potential remedies for lowering postprandial hyperglycemia, a common diabetes complication that happens after eating resulting in abnormally high blood glucose or blood sugar level. The study also looked into the biologically active content of batuan and how its antioxidant properties counter the production of free radicals that damage cells. Hopefully, further research can be done on this so that batuan may one day join the list of Philippine medicinal plants approved by the Department of Health.

Batuan for Weight Loss

Another interesting study in 2016 by Loraine Bainto of UP Los Baños on the isolation and stability of hydroxycitric acid from batuan. Hydroxycitric acid is a compound with anti-obesity properties and is commonly extracted from Garcinia cambogia, a tree belonging to the same genus as batuan. Results revealed that the extracted acid from batuan ranges from 4.81 to 4.83 g/100 g sample therefore batuan is a potential source of hydroxy citric acid.

These studies are not yet conclusive but they show that batuan has potential use in medicine. There is also another study that determined the physicochemical properties, and nutritional and sensory quality of Batuan in different stages of fruit maturity. This study by Elizabeth Quevedo of Visayas State University is important for future research on possible product development. I’m happy to note that she used my article as one of her references.

Batuan Farming in the Philippines

Batuan farming is not easy as the plant is very difficult to propagate.  We have a 20-year-old batuan tree inside our property and finding seedlings under it is a rare occasion.

In order to germinate from seed, choose ripe batuan fruits and have them boiled. Once the water starts boiling, allow it to boil for 1 minute. Not many people know this method but based on experience, we have lots of seedlings found in our backyard where food waste is thrown.

Collect the seeds from the boiled fruits and sow them. They will germinate between one to two months. Once germinated, you can use the seedlings for grafting or budding with a mature tree. Growing totally from seed is not advisable because there are trees that don’t bear fruits (male), and it takes years  (4 to 6) for batuan to bear fruits from seedlings.

Air layering or marcotting is another faster way to produce batuan planting materials. Batuan’s branches are small and abundant and they are easy to air layer.

Just like any other fruit tree, you can apply organic fertilizer or compost to help it grow faster. Grafted batuan can take three to five years to bear fruit while the marcotted ones can take two to three years.

Batuan fruits can be harvested anytime. There is no specific age of the fruit to harvest but if you are farming batwan for commercial purposes, wait until the fruits get bigger to have a higher yield.

Is Batuan Farming Profitable?

In Negros Occidental, around 90% of batuan sold in public markets are wild. Batuan’s price depends on the demand. There are times that a kilogram of batuan can cost you P50 and can go up to P300. Our 20-year-old batuan tree provides an average of  60kg/year. With an average price of P150/kg, it can produce a total of P9,000/year. It’s not a big amount of money but if you have land that is non-arable, having just ten batwan trees could net a big profit.

If you are looking to plant batwan for profit, batuan farming is profitable if we are talking about 100 trees.  If each tree can produce just 30kgs per year, a P450,000 income is highly possible.  Caring for batwan is also easy since it is a wild tree species and doesn’t really need special care and maintenance but maintaining the trees clean of weeds and other plants under it could help produce more fruits.

If you can process batuan into powder, juice, or ground syrup, the profit can be higher and you can store the product for a longer period of time.

Questions Related to Batuan and Batuan Farming in the Philippines

What is the taste of Batuan?

Batwan has a sour taste but is not acidic to the stomach like vinegar and calamansi. Batwan sometimes spelled batuan is related to mangosteen.

Is Batwan a fruit?

Batwan (Garcinia binucao) is a wild tree about 15 – 20 meters tall that grows in the forests of the Islands of Panay and Negros. Batwan bears fruits abundantly during the wet season and mature fruits hang on the main trunk and branches of the tree until harvested.

What is the scientific name of Batuan?

Batuan’s scientific name is Garcinia binucao, a species of flowering plant in the Clusiaceae family. It is commonly known as binukaw or batuan, is a species of Garcinia endemic to the Philippines.

How do you extract Batuan?

Batuan can also be sold as an extract. Boil Batuan in water until soft. Peel the cooked Batuan, remove the seeds, and mash the pulp. Strain the mashed pulp to get the juice.

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