A new product, Arius fruit wine, developed by the Batanes State College (BaSCO), received a special citation for being one of the promising products exhibited during the 9th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition (NTF) organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

“Ano yung Arius?” was the usual question asked by the participants and visitors when they came across the booth of BaSCO which displayed various products developed from the Arius fruits including wine, jam, yema, and pastillas.

Arius Wine

Arius Wine

Arius (Podocarpus costalis), a pine bearing sweet and sultry reddish purple berries, is indigenous to Batanes and is found thriving in the province for a long time. Before, it was famously utilized for aesthetics especially during the holiday season when it is decorated as a Christmas tree. Exploited for its landscaping appeal, the Arius pines are also grown in other parts of Luzon, especially in Metro Manila to give a touch of nature to urban areas such as plazas, parks, roadsides, and schools. However, Arius pines in Metro Manila do not bear berries unlike those grown in Batanes. Moreover, the berries were originally underutilized by the people and were left to be eaten by the birds, which are responsible for dispersing its seeds throughout the province.

Today, with the realization of how appealing the sweet taste and succulent texture of Arius berries, BaSCO has conducted projects focusing on developing various food products using Arius berries.

Two projects titled “Processing Technology Development and Utilization for Organically Grown Arius Fruits in Batanes” and “Arius Fruits Product Development” were led by Dr. Roger G. Baltazar, director for research and extension of BaSCO, and were supported by BAR through its banner program National Technology Commercialization Program (NTCP).

The projects aimed to develop various product technologies from Arius berries so to create value-adding strategies that will improve livelihood and profit. The products developed through these projects are Arius candies (e.g., pastillas, yema), jelly, jam, juice, pastries (e.g., tart), preserve, prunes, tea, and wine.

The “Arius Fruits Product Development” project also paved way for the development of Arius as feed additives to animal feeds and as fertilizer when fermented.

The special citation during the 9th NTF shows how promising the potentials of Arius not only as a wine but also as an indigenous commodity beginning to be known by the mass consumers as a versatile and delicious fruit.

The continuous collaboration of BaSCO and BAR aims to intensify the production and commercialization of Arius products to improve the income of farming communities in Batanes and to encourage investments that will help trigger economic rise in the province. ### (Leila Denisse E. Padilla)

Source and image: bar.gov.ph