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The government must tap for more domestic consumption and enhanced global trade the great potential and enviable versality of the Bicol pili which is “the King of Nuts”.

This was the message of Rep. Edcel C. Lagman to Agriculture Secretary William Dar in a letter dated September 13, 2020 urging the creation of a Pili Industry Development Program (PIDP).

The PIDP must be separately and adequately funded in the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to harness the full potential of pili and develop the pili industry in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur and other parts of the Bicol Region and the country which are suitable to the cultivation of pili.

Lagman explained in his letter that there is a critical need for sufficient and continuing government support for:

  1. The encouragement of developing pili plantations as the present pili supply comes mostly from backyard trees; 

  2. Extending the shelf-life of pili nuts and pili products comparable to macadamia and pistachio; 

  3. Enhancing the quality of pili products and improving their packaging to make them more competitive; 

  4. Massively promoting the export potential of pili products; and 

  5. Prohibiting the exportation of the raw pili shell and pili seedlings to protect Filipino entrepreneurs and local pili producers, and maintain the country’s dominance in pili production.

Likewise, he underscored that the mechanization of production must be undertaken to support mass production, except for the de-shelling of a pili nut to retrieve a perfect pili kernel which requires the gentle precision only human hands can accomplish in the century-old tradition of pili cracking known as paglitad to Bicolanos which beats any machine.

Lagman also stated that qualities of the pili as a superfood will help it crack the growing local and global health food markets.

The Albay solon noted that the pili nuts are: (1) loaded with nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and calcium; (2) rich in omega fatty acids, phosphorus, and have high levels of protein, promoting heart health and balancing cholesterol levels; (3) can help in weight loss as they contain all eight essential amino acids which make people feel fuller for a longer period; (4) rich in Vitamin E which aids in improving the skin and hair; and (5) helpful in treating insomnia because their high magnesium content promotes more restful sleep. 

Lagman also emphasized the versality of the pili nut: 

  1. The kernel can be eaten raw or prepared as both sweet or savory snacks; 

  2. The pulp of the pili nut when soaked in hot water can be eaten as a vegetable which has a nutritional value similar to the avocado;

  3. The hard shells can be processed as activated carbon or charcoal briquettes that make an excellent fuel particularly for bakeries;

  4. Both the kernel and the pulp are excellent sources of oil for baking and cooking; 

  5. Oil from the pulp can be extracted and used as a substitute for cottonseed oil in the manufacture of soap and edible products; 

  6. The pili tree sap, known worldwide as the Manila elemi, has a cool, fresh scent that is used for perfumes and aromatherapy oils;

  7. The pili tree is also a hardwood that is carved as furniture or home décor; and

  8. The pili tree can grow up to 20 meters (66 feet) and is a natural wind breaker, ideal in the typhoon-prone Bicol Region.

The Bicol lawmaker urged Dar not to miss the great potential and versatility of the pili nut and assist in commercially cracking it for domestic consumption and global export.