A Sweet Success: Dr. Valdez talks about the future of sweet potato for feeds industry

Prof. Maria Teresa SJ. Valdez of Tarlac Agricultural University discussed the ProEn-K technology on sweet potato feed processing during the second broadcast debut of AgriSikat or “Sa Agrikultura, Sikat ka!” via DWFA 107.3 FM, the official radio station of Central Luzon State University, and simultaneously livestreamed on Facebook live feed reaching over a thousand of listeners and viewers last April 21.

 Dr. Valdez explained during the interview that sweet potato has been one of the commodities for research of the Tarlac Agricultural University wherein various studies on product and technology development to produce high-protein feed have been conducted since 2000.

Sweet Potato or Ipomoea batatas is one of the major agricultural crops of Tarlac Province which has a huge contribution in the Central Luzon’s economy. Easier to cultivate and relatively cheaper than a kilo of rice, the sweet potato became one of the staple agricultural crops for food security particularly among marginalized families in the province.

One of the successful projects for this commodity was the development of ProEn-K as animal feed through fermentation that incorporated some modifications to come up with a suitable protocol and come up with the technology. Due to high cost of imported protein sources for feed processing that affected the production of commercial feeds, Dr. Valdez considered developing ProEn-K to lessen the cost of production of commercial feed products for animal and aquaculture industries.

Dr. Valdez also explained that based on their studies, there was a 17- to 20-fold increase in the crude protein content of sweet potato pulp after protein enrichment through fermentation using microorganisms, as compared to the original material. She also added that this result can help animal raisers and fisherfolks realize higher profitability compared with one hundred percent commercial feed utilization as this was also being supported based on the result of the cost and return analysis comparing ProEn-K with that of commercial feed which is comparable and competitive.

Also, this technology was showcased through the conduct of feeding trials in commercial ponds in Bulacan, Bataan, Pangasinan, and Zambales with very promising results. Trials using bangus, tilapia, blue crabs, and shrimps, all with positive results, were also conducted in Negros Oriental and in Iloilo.

The trademark “ProEn-K” was granted by IPOPhil in 2011. While patenting (of procedures and compositions) is in progress, the TAU is also on its way to engage into the mass production and marketing of the product to better serve operators, not just for aquaculture but also for some of the livestock and poultry. The univerisity also hopes to commercialize its operation at the village level and encourage private investors to put-up their capital shares in this venture. (MABagsit, CAF)