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DOST develops pili pulp oil extraction technology in Sorsogon

By Danny O. Calleja

SORSOGON CITY, Aug. 26 – The Sorsogon provincial office here of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has developed a technology that provides a simple method of producing oil from pilinut pulp.

It now serves as an alternative to the process introduced by the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna which uses enzymes in extraction and chemicals in refining pili pulp oil.

The NIMBB process, while proven efficient is rather complicated and requires substantial investment and not suitable with a micro or village-scale pilinut processing venture, according to Melinda Yee, the leading producer of pilinut pulp oil here.

The technology introduced by the DOST provincial office, on the other hand, is composed of simple cooking and filtration tools that process oil extracts from freshly harvested pilinuts using minimal heat.

“Because the process retains the aroma and natural green color of pili pulp, the resulting oil can be considered of premium or virgin quality,” Yee said.

Yee is maker and distributor of Leslie Organice Pili Oil which is now enjoying wide patronage in the local market and gradually penetrating the international market because of its various nutritional, pharmaceutical and cosmetic uses.

Yee said she started producing the organic oil in 2004 after discovering the pili pulp contains an essential oil that can be used as salad dressing and shortening, as well as the base for canned sardines and other food preparations.

It can also be used as ingredient in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, having antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help heal wounds and allergies.

The color of pili-pulp oil is similar to olive oil’s greenish-yellow tint. It has 56.7-percent oleic glycerides, 13.5-percent linoleic glycerides and 29.3-percent saturated fatty acids.

An analysis by the DOST shows that the oil has very low free fatty acid content of 0.06 percent and moisture of only 0.04 percent, which favors longer shelf life.

Meanwhile, the results of the chemical and nutritional analysis of pili-pulp oil compared with olive oil reveal that it has more beta-carotene content, a source of vitamin A and caroteneoids, phytosterols and tocopherols (vitamin E).

These substances are known as powerful antioxidants that protect cells and neutralize unstable free radicals. It is also a good source of protein, iodine, minerals and calcium.

Yee said the oil is suitable for people with delicate skin and are health-conscious because it is organic and contains and anti-aging element that prolongs the onset of wrinkles and helps prevent acne and pimples.

It is also being used as massage oil for muscle pain and arthritis.

She also supplies pili-pulp oil to a manufacturer of bath soap, massage oil and anti-dandruff shampoo.

“I started with manual extraction employing three persons to extract up to 400 liters of virgin pili oil from 10,000 pieces of fresh pili nuts. With this technology provided to me by the DOST since early this year, I was able to increase my production by almost 50 percent,” Yee said.

This new technology satisfies the demand of local organic groups which took interest in the product for naturally processed, chemical-free and virgin quality pili pulp oil for food, health and cosmetic applications, she said.

Using manual extraction, the DOST technology was tested on different varieties of pili obtained from different areas in Sorsogon province.

Oil yield, computed as percentage by weight of whole fresh pilinut, varies widely and is clearly associated with the variety of pilinut.

However, the maximum yield recorded so far is about six percent, which translates to about 65 milliliter per kilogram of fresh whole nuts.

Establishing the varietal differences in oil yield requires further study. But oil recovery is expected to increase if a suitable mechanical pulp press or extractor becomes available, Yee said.

Pili oil has always been featured in traditional medicines and herbal remedies in Bicol region where it abounds.

Indigenous knowledge gathered attest to its efficacy in treating skin diseases such as scabies and de-worming capability for livestock such as pigs and chicken.

Recent testimony to its ability to cure diabetes was published by Fernando Simon of YAMANKO enterprises.

Some groups that advocate and promote organic products reportedly believe in the potential health benefits of pili pulp oil, which they claim could equal or even surpass that of virgin coconut oil.

The simplicity of the new technology allowed for its easy diffusion through technology transfer trainings to pili processors, traders, and farmers in Sorsogon, according to Engr. Manuel Lucena of the DOST Bicol regional office based in Legazpi City.

The introduction of the technology generated renewed interest among local stakeholders and is paving the way for the establishment of the pili pulp oil production industry in Sorsogon.

At present, raw pili pulp oil sells at P500 per gallon.

In support of the industry’s development, the DOST regional office is currently working to develop technologies on mechanical extraction and other non-chemical approach in oil refining, Lucena said. (PNA)

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