Carra-what? Increased ‘munggo’ production depends on this abundant seaweed

We all know what “munggo”, or “monggo” is. That small, greenish member of the legume family we love to saute or make a key ingredient of in savory or sweet dishes  is also popularly called the mung bean. It grows abundantly in Southeast Asia. But with the human population explosion in the Asian region, production of the lowly monggo needs to be accelerated.

Enter the uniquely named carrageenan. Quite the opposite of the monggo’s public stature, hardly anyone knows what carrageenan looks like, let alone where it comes from.

Who would have thought, then, that carrageenan would be so compatible with monggo that their marriage would yield abundant mung babies?

Apparently, the imaginative scientists at  the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) did, and they are more than happy to “kiss and tell” the juicy details of this relationship.


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Carrageenan is a polysaccharide extracted from seaweeds, particularly from carrageenophytes that are abundant in the Philippines. It is an edible natural product used as dietary supplement, gelling agent, stabilizer of toothpaste, and thickener/emulsifier of ice cream, among others.

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According to Fernando B. Aurigue, PNRI Project Leader, Senior Science Research Specialist, and a Career Scientist I, carrageenophytes is a marine alga that contains carrageenan. The carrageenan species that can be found in the Philippines include Eucheuma, Hypnea, Acanthophora, and Kappaphycus.

Kappaphycus, in particular, is commonly used to make carrageenan plant growth promoter (PGP), an oligo-saccharide produced by irradiating carrageenan solution. It is already registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) as an inorganic fertilizer for rice.

Aurigue explained that in order to utilize the benefits of carrageenan as fertilizer, PNRI conducted experiments using carrageenan PGP on different varieties of mungbean. Pot experiments were done on the Kulabo mungbean variety, which yielded 61.3% when sprayed thrice with freshly irradiated carrageenan PGP. The 104.7% increase was achieved after using a 3-month-old carrageenan PGP  as foliar spray.

Several on-farm trials were also conducted in different regions. In Region III, results of the study in the farm of Emerito C. Marasigan, a farmer-cooperator in Brgy. Navaling, Magalang, Pampanga, showed that NSIC Mg 2 (Pagasa 19) increased in yield from 1,353 kgs/ha to 1,805 kgs/ha, or an increase of 33.4%.

In Region II, an on-farm trial conducted in Brgy. Barsat Pequeño, San Mateo, Isabela using the Pagasa 7, showed an 86.9% increase in yield at ½ RRG and carrageenan PGP compared with farmer’s practice of seed broadcasting without inoculant.

Another field trial in NSF Seed Production Area, Brgy. Bay, Los Baños, Laguna, using Pagasa 3 showed an increase in yield from 1,049.70 kgs/ha to 1,134.09 kgs/ha when carrageenan PGP was supplemented to Farmer’s Practice. On the other hand, for Pagasa 7, the yield increased from 710.45 kgs/ha to 1,497.60 kgs/ha when carrageenan PGP was supplemented to the farmer’s practice.

In Region X, Pagasa 7 was used for the field trial in the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Crops and Livestock Research Complex (NMACLRC) of the Department of Agriculture in Brgy. Dalwangan, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. When carrageenan PGP was supplemented to farmer’s practice, an increase in yield from 312 kg/ha to 392 kg/ha was realized.

The use of carrageenan PGP for mungbean also gave the following results: more branches; more flowers which became pods; longer pods with more seeds; larger and heavier seeds; extended flowering and pod formation; increased priming from 3 to 6; and extensive root system and nodulation.

Given these benefits, Aurigue recommended that mungbean farmers use carrageenan PGP to supplement their practice.

The topic was presented during the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW at World Trade Center in Pasay City. PCAARRD was one of the Councils of DOST that participated in the event (DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).


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