Bread talk

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Better late than never.

The Philippine Federation of Bakers’ Association is asking the government to encourage and support the agriculture sector to explore the massive production of crops that can be processed as substitute to wheat flour, following unprecedented price increases due to, among others, the invasion of Ukraine, a top wheat producer.

It’s a move long overdue in the country, an agricultural economy highly capable of producing wheat flour substitutes from among the numerous crops grown in the country.

If the proposal gains ground and action, consumers, along with the bakers, will no longer have to contend with the question: Shrink the size of pan de sal and other bread products or increase their price?

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The pan de sal gets into the heart of the issue because it is our national bread. It is usually part of the morning fare of Filipinos, no matter how poor, middle income or rich they are.

If the British have their loaf bread, the Americans their sandwich buns and other Europeans their bagel, then we, Filipinos, have our pan de sal.

It is eaten as is, or with filling, that even a foreign food chain in the country offers a low-priced pan de sal sandwich in its menu.

As a boy, I remember men gathering in the town kapehan in the public market animatedly discussing the day’s issues while dipping their pan de sal into their tason of hot coffee before savoring it.

Today, pan de sal is sold at the least P3 in the nearby bakeshop, a far cry from one-centavo per piece sold at Tyo Enan’s New Town Bakery in Cauayan when I was boy.

My elder brother, who peddled the bread straight into homes on weekends got an extra cent for every four pieces he sold, his earning enough for the following week’s balon and school needs.

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The bakers’ federation urges government instrumentalities, including DA and the Department of Science and Technology, to explore possibilities for the quick development of technologies and processes for the production of flour from indigenous crops.

Among the crops identified that can yield flour produce are camote, considered the healthiest among the plants, the low-carb squash, corn, yam, potato, coconut cassava and rice.

We can just imagine the tastiness of bread from enriched flour, just like the bugrong pan de sal which contains balunggay ingredient.

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The Philippine Information Agency reported that DOST has already blazed the trail in Ilocos Sur by conducting a camote flour training in the far-flung village of Suyo town.

The result has been encouraging, thus the undertaking calls for a nationwide replication to hasten action to address the emergent problem.

Indeed, it’s high time for our country to explore the production of flour from local crops, which means tastier and even more nutritious bread products.

We are confident that the bakers’ proposal and the government’s eventual action will serve not just as a stop-gap measure.

More significantly, it will ensure food security, strengthen and stabilize economic conditions and productivity in the country.

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An important environment focused event is being marked this week.

It is the International Day for the protection of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

The day reminds me of the many countless trips I had to Suyac, the Mangrove island in Sagay City where, at one time – in 2015 – led a team of international students and faculty which conducted a post-disaster rehabilitation program.

Officials recognized that the mangroves helped shield the island and its residents from the fury of Typhoon Yolanda.

UNESCO, which spearheads the observance, has reported that more than three-fourths of the world’s mangroves and the balances that depend on them are now threatened.

We are not over-emphasizing the contribution of mangroves to the wellbeing of people, along with food security, and protection of coastal communities across continents.

UNESCO further noted that while mangroves are found in 123 countries, they remain globally rare as they represent less than 1 percent of the world’s tropical forests.

That’s why, UNESCO said, it is important that we protect these prolific and rare mangrove ecosystem and parks for the protection they offer from erosions, storm surges and tsunamis, along with the rich biodiversity they provide.

Happy celebration to all, especially to my friends in Sagay City and Suyac Island.

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Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) – NWI

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