Thursday, September 16, 2010

Assessment of The Pili Industry In The Bicol Region

Assessment of The Pili Industry In The Bicol Region
Estela B. Orolfo Ph. D. -Retired CC-III DA-AES( Paper presented in the Crop Congress during the Agri-Fiesta Sa Bikol 2000 at the UNC Sports Palace, Naga City on Sept. 5, 2000.)


Pili (Canarium ovatum Engl.) is one of the twenty major fruit crops of the Philippines which deserve to be developed. It is the crop which the country produce with greatest advantage and competitiveness on a global scale. Historical accounts on this crop attests that the Philippines is the only country which produce and process pili in commercial quantity (De Padua et al, 1978) such that we have the monopoly of the foreign market (Coronel, 1990). However recently Hawaii intends to produce pili to cater to mainland USA (Zee, 1993).The export potential of pilinuts and pilinut processed products is high. Pilinut is considered superior to almond (West, 1993). Processed delicacies of the kernel are very delicious and easily appeal to consumers, even among foreigners. In fact according to Lanuza (1970) the Philippines had been exporting pilinut to several countries since pre-war years . In 1997 the country exported 3,970 kilos of processed pilinuts to Australia and Guam (Coronel, 1990). The resin (elemi) which is extracted from the bark is a known export product of the country for many years . It has both pharmaceutical and industrial uses. It is an ingredient in the manufacture of plasters, ointments, paints, varnish, sealants, lacquers, asphalt, water and fire proofing, linoleum, plastics and printing inks. Record indicated that for many years the Philippines has been exporting resin (manila elemi) (Manalo G. A., et al, 1940). Oil from both kernel and pulp is considered equal if not better to olive oil in quality and is suitable for culinary uses. Pili is indigenous to the Philippines (Merill, 1923). It is produced in at least 6 regions namely: Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Caraga, Western Visayas and Southern Mindanao (Fig. 1). In all these areas pili are found sporadically growing in forestal and semi-forestal conditions. It is compatible with a large variety of plants in a wide range of agro-ecological conditions. The tree is very sturdy and lives long. In the latest search for the oldest productive female tree sponsored by DA-Reg. V, the winner was claimed to have passed 4 generations (about 200 years) in inspite of the frequent typhoons that pass Bicol every year. This tree is still very prolific with an average yield of 12 sacks (20,000 - 24,000) fresh fruits per season (annually).As a commercial commodity pili has other favorable attributes not possessed by other Philippine fruits. Pilinut is not perishable. The fruit can be marketed fresh, as shelled nuts, dried kernel or processed into various delicacies. It does not require costly storage treatment. If properly dried it can be stored for 1 year under ordinary room condition thus giving enough time to speculate for better prices.Aside from its commercial importance pili fits well as a material for the agro-eco-tourism program of the government. The spreading crown provides shelter to wildlife and serve as wind breakers during typhoons. It is a good material for rehabilitating watershed areas and prevent soil erosion because of its deep penetrating root system, sturdy stems and vigorous crown.

In Bicol pili plays a significant role in the economy It provides additional income to some 13,435 farmers who own at least 10 trees and farm laborers hired as harvesters (Benchmark survey, 1998). The processing industry generate employment to scores of people such as the traders, processors, assemblers, factory workers, store keepers and others offering miscellaneous services related to the industry. At present there are about 256 entrepreneurs involved in the pili industry (Mirandilla, J.A., 1995). However, only 31 are registered (DTI, July, 2000).

Aware of the great potential of pili as a commercial crop it was selected as the flagship crop of Bicol. Thus, at present there is concerted efforts by various agencies and some NGO's to hasten the development of the industry in the region. Therefore the elevation of pili as the 8th subnetwork under the Philippine fruit RDE Agenda is welcomed with much hope for this crop to become an export winner in the near future.

Industry Situation

Production Area

Pili used to be one of the 7 major fruits of the country. However production area is generally sporadic and semi-forestal. Existing trees are natural borne such that local producers take this crop for granted. Pili trees were cut indiscriminately to give way to other crops like coconuts and various annual crops.

In 1996 the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics estimated the area at 1,218 hectares throughout the country with Bicol having the biggest area of 968 ha. (79.47%). Eastern Visayas is a poor second with 139 has. (11.41%), Southern Tagalog 72 has. (5.9%), Western Visayas 26 has. (2.13%) Caraga and Southern Mindanao 13 ha. (1.07%).In Bicol Sorsogon has the biggest area devoted to pili with 669 hectares followed by Albay 145 hectares, Camarines Sur 100 hectares, Camarines Norte 50 hectares and Catanduanes 4 hectares.

Existing Pili Trees

The latest survey jointly conducted by DA and LGU in 1998 accounted some 410,161 pili trees throughout the Bicol region. Of this population 97,920 (23.87%) are productive. The 312, 241 (76.13%) are either male or are still in the vegetative stage. At present this population must have doubled due to the implementation of the pili development project where no less than 608,879 seedlings were distributed for the establishment of pili orchards, rehabilitation of watershed areas and for reforestation (Laysa et. Al, 1998).

Pilinut Production

Bicol is the major producer of pili with a share of 57% of the domestic production. (Fig. 4). In 1998, the regional production was estimated at approximately 9,007 MT. Of the 6 provinces Albay has the highest output with 3,549 MT (40%), followed by Sorsogon with 3,001 MT (33%) and Camarines Sur with 1,207 MT (13%).

Although Bicol remain as leader in pili production we must not stagnate. Note that our production continue to decline (Fig. 6).

Farmer Producer

There are approximately 13, 435 farmers producing pili. Most of these farmers own 5-10 trees with a few others having more than 10 trees. In general the productive trees at present are volunteer growth in the area and grew from seeds. Their dispersal were the work of wild animals which feed on the pili fruits. To our knowledge there are only two pili orchards purposely established by the owner some 2-3 decades ago. One is in Bulusan, Sorsogon where pili is intercropped with coconuts and the other is in Sipocot, Camarines Sur. It is an open area planted to a mixed population of pili cultivars some grown from seedlings and some were grafted.

Germplasm Collected, Nurseries and Scion Groves Established

The regional repository for pili is at Albay Experiment Station, one of the Research Outreach Stations of DA-RFU V. At present there are 819 pili selections planted in the germplasm area, 296 are female where 248 are already productive, 337 are male and 186 are newly planted from last years collections. From the old selections 5 outstanding cultivars have been selected 3 of which are now certified by NSIC as new pili varieties bearing the names Magnaye, Laysa and M. Orolfo (Orolfo E.B. and B.R. Orbase, 1997). The other 2 outstanding selections (Daet No. 1 and Malipo) are under final evaluation and review by NSIC.

Germplasm collection is being sustained in collaboration with the selected LGU's, SUC's and farmer group in order to fast tract the acquisition and domestication of elite cultivars. Selection criteria was formulated in consultation with local processors.

The implementation of the DA-High Value Commercial Crop Development Program and the Pili Development Project in the Bicol Region participated in by DENR, BUCAF and with DA as lead agency facilitated the establishment of 12 nursery sites and 6 scion groves. At present 2 of these scion groves are already source of limited number of scions.

Plant Material Production and Distribution

At the end of the interagency project (PDPB) in 1998 a total of 1,199,074 (1,169,187 seedlings and 29,887 asexually propagated plants) were produced from which 608,879 pieces were distributed to requesting clientele. Henceforth DA-RFU -V single handedly sustained the production of plant materials. If at least 75% of the planting materials distributed are established in the field, an additional area of about 4,566 hectares shall have been planted to pili by now.

Techno-Demo Farms Established

Except for DOST all the implementing agencies of the Pili Development Project in the Bicol Region established techno-demonstration farms showcasing their respective technology highlights. For instance DA focused on the introduction of different cultivars using seedlings and asexually propagated plants through cleft grafting, BUCAF used seedlings and asexual plants through inarching and DENR demonstrated the integration of pili in reforestation using seedlings. By the end of the project 131 techno-demo sites were established throughout the region. DA established 116, DENR 12 and BUCAF 3. Furthermore techno-demo farms established by DA is research based and focused on pili based cropping system.

Pili Trading

Pilinut is marketed in 4 different kind such as: fresh fruits, nuts, fresh and dried kernel and processed. The study of Mirandilla (1995) accounted a total of 256 pili traders. Of this 156 (60.93%) are from Sorsogon, 73 (28.51%) are from Albay and 27 (10.5%) are from Camarines Sur. Some of these traders are also processors. On the average a trader purchase / sell 1.5 MT of pili per year thus, approximately 384 MT of pili is traded in Bicol. With the running price average of P 200 per kilo, the total volume of pili traded would amount to P 76,800,000.

Issues and Problems

Although the pili processing industry has sustained through the years it remained as a cottage industry and family oriented. In the recent benchmark survey conducted by BCARRD (1998) and DA (1999) the following constraints were identified (1) unavailability of superior quality planting materials (2) limited institutional support on production development, (3) lack of pilinut supply, (4) Poor marketing systems, (5) unavailability of cost saving post harvest and processing facilities, (6) high cost of transportation, (7) drastic fluctuation in prices and (8) lack / absence of appropriate credit support to farmer producers.

Desired Industry Situation

Industry Goal

Considering that pili is one commodity which the Philippines can export with competitive advantage. The pili industry must be fully commercialized in areas where there is substantial production (Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Southern Tagalog). Strengthen research on post harvest handling, processing and packaging to come up to international standards. Enhance close networking with various stakeholders to strengthen resource base. Develop efficient marketing system and lobby for legislative support, if necessary, for the industry to receive adequate fund support and protect it from exploitation.


The United States alone imports millions of kilos shelled walnuts and 9 million kilos of shelled almonds. With pili being acclaimed superior if not better to these nuts and if the region can produce products of high quality then pili is sure to replace a significant amount of the US importation of these nut. Pili is also a potential substitute for macadamia, walnut and cashew. At present there is a great demand for nuts whatever kind in Korea, Hongkong, Singapore and Australia (market Profile for HVCC).

Present Initiatives

1. DA Region V - Research (TG, TA, TV)- Extension - 1,000,000 seedlings- 66,00 asexually propagated

2. LGU Albay - Commercial Pili Production with the target of 3,000 hectares. - Provincial Ordinance 99-015 - Six Years Tax Moratorium for Real Property landowners planting pili in commercial scale.- Fund allocation for pili development - 20% of economic development fund.

3. LGU Sorsogon - Executive Order No. 8 series 1999. Creating Sorsogon Provincial Pili Industry Council.- Rehabilitation of 680 hectares covering 34 barangays province wide.- Budgetary allocation - P 530,450 for plant material supply at P 15,600 per barangay.

4. ATI - Strengthen training program on Pili Production, Processing and Utilization for LGUs and NGOs.

5. BCARRD - participation of member agencies in the Phase II PIRDP

6. DA-BAR - Inclusion of pili as number 8 sub network under the Philippine RDE Agenda for the modernization of the fruit industry.

7. DOST - Establishment of quality standards for processed products.

8. ITDI - R & D for Packaging Technologies and Post Harvest and Processing equipments.

9. BPRE - BU - R & D on Post Harvest Handling, Processing and Utilization.
_______________________________References_____ BAS Production Statistics for KCCDP Priority Crops 1996.
_____ BCARRD 1998. Benchmark Survey of the Pili Industry in the Bicol Region 100 pp.
Coronel, R.E. 1990. Promising Fruit of the Philippines.
Coronel, R.E. and J.C. Zuño 1979. The correlation between some fruit characters of pili. Phil. Agri. 63: 163-165.
Lanuza, E. A. 1970. Pili Culture. Plant Industry Digest 32: 33 (1) 7-11.
Laysa, F.D. et al. 1999. Pili Development Project In The Bicol Region. 106 pp.
Manalo, G. and A.P. West. 1940. Analysis and Composition of Manila elemi. Phil. J. Crp. Sci. 78 (1): 111-120.
Merill, E.D. 1923 An enumeration of Philippine Flowering Plants. Bu. of Printing Manila.
Mirandilla, J.A. 1995. The Pilinut Industry in The Bicol Region. Ph.D. Thesis Aquinas University Legaspi City. 186 pp.
Orolfo E. and B.R. Orbase 1997. New Pili Varieties in the Bicol Region. 10 pp.
West, E. P. 1923. The Composition of the Pilinut oil. Phil. Jr. Sci. 23 (3): 269-276.
Zee, F.T. 1993. Rambutan and Pilinuts. Potential crops for Hawaii. P. 461-465. In. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.) New Crops. Willy, New York.


1. Indigenous in the Philippines.

2. Produce in commercial scale only in this country -globally competitive -monopoly of the foreign market

3. Export potential. - Pilinut is superior to almond and other nuts. - Processed delicacies appeal to consumers, even foreigners. - Resin is a known export of the country for many years with medicinal and industrial uses.

4. Pili is non-perishable. - 1 year storability under normal condition.

5. Plays a significant role in the economy of Bicol. - 13,435 farmers benefited - 256 traders-processors involved. - Significant number indirectly involved in the industry.

6. Environment friendly - Prevents erosion. - Act as wind breakers. - Provide shelter for wildlife - Aesthetic value

7. It is the flagship crop of Bicol.


Annie said...

Where can you find a dish from Pili & sweets from its nuts? Nowhere; only in Bicol.
Pili dipped in kuyog, that's a yummy appetizer.

Santo domingo said...

I love the pili meat nilantang pili, dip it in a fish sauce, eat it with rice, fish or meat Boy what a treat. It will beat any gourmet dish in America or the world.

I will go home back to Sorsogon just to have that kind of meal again.

Jenny said...

Ummm, shake the slightly fuchsia-colored Bicol patis, have it ready to dip the pili flesh, still warm from a good soaking in a deep bowl of hot water (not allowed to boil, not even allowed to simmer, but just a little bit closer to it)…..sometimes even if the pili is a little bit “kisil”, it doesn’t matter for the combination of flavors is just perfect; then pair it with “mahumok na pinakul-aw na langka” to mix further in the palate with warm rice and fried or inon-on na “turus”….or perhaps, “beef or pork tapa”…..oh, well, in my dreams.

Craver said...

To Jenny and Santo Domingo:

Perfect. Just perfect.

Bacongnon man aco said...

I'm looking at this from an economic angle. One thing that might be a drawback to the statistics presented in this post is that they are at least 10 years old. They might have been reliable some 8 years ago but a lot would have happened in the period since that would make those figures less reliable.

But those figures, though dated, could indicate a condition that might be a cause for concern for those involved in the Sorsogon economy and the pili industry in particular. They should also be a cause for concern for the political leadership, if they as much as care.

Based on the stats shown, Bicol has 968 hectares planted to pili trees or 79.47% nationwide. But its production is only has 57% of the country's total. This could indicate that other regions are more efficiently using their pili resources and producing more.

Of the 968 hectares in Bicol, 669 has. are in Sorsogon while 145 has. are in Albay. However, Albay produces 3,549 metric tons or 40% to only 3001 metric tons or 33% produced in Sorsogon. This is a huge disparity, which does not speak well of either the pili producers or processors in Sorsogon. What could the Albay producers be doing well that those in Sorsogon can emulate?

I hope the Sorsogon pili producers have awakened since those statistics were gathered and are now at least at par with Albay and other regions in the Philippines. Improving their production practices could only help them economically. And that would help the economy of Sorsogon as well.

By the way, is there any new studies on the industry?

Bacongnon man aco said...

BTW, has anyone noticed an ongoing feature on The Filipino Channel (TFC) about a producer of pili delicacies? The short clip features various products she created or developed. To say the least, the entrepreneur is quite imaginative in her product offerings. The producer is from Samar.

anti gambling said...

To Bacongnon man aco & Jenny:

Are you related? Your style of writing are the same. Or you must be one person.

London said...

I see a big difference in the style of writing between Jenny and Bacongnon Man Aco which has a very detectable masculine trait, whereas Jenny's is undoubtedly feminine.

Bacongnon man aco said...

Jenny and I are definitely NOT the same person. I agree with London that Jenny is most certainly a female and our writing styles are different. I have a suspicion of who Jenny might be but would not hazard a guess.

el Muralla said...

Do you know that the biggest Pili tree in Sorsogon is found in San Isidro, Bacon, Sorsogon? It won first place in Sorsogon Provincial Category and second placer in Regional. I can't tell you who's the owner of that tree, to protect his privacy. Pls. check on this:

Bacongnon man aco said...

I have some pili trees in San Isidro but I can tell you, it's not me.

Annie said...

Can the Pili tree be used to make a furniture or for lumber like the Kamagong?
I understand that the wood from these trees are solid.

el Muralla said...

Pili tree is a good firewood but I discourage everybody in using them. Instead, use the chopped lagting.

Bacongnon man aco said...

Pili can grow to be a big tree. But I have not heard of the wood ever being used for lumber. I doubt that it can be used for that purpose. Otherwise, they would be using it already as such, like they do with coco lumber. At any rate, I think that pili is more valuable for nut production than lumber.

el Muralla said...

Even if Pili tree can be used as lumber, no one will dare to use it. Pili tree is such a valuable tree when it comes to produce, especially when it bears “manatok” fruits.

I remember when I was just a teen-ager, we have a big Pili tree that was almost totally uprooted by a big typhoon. Out tenant wants it to be converted into firewood, my father refused. Now, that tree, grows sideways, bears such an abundant "manatok" fruits every season!

It's me said...

Can’t anything be done to involve the impoverished in this promising industry? With proper updated business assessments towards a community-based, citizen-owned establishment, is it possible for “socio-economic or even well-intending political movers” to lobby such concept to the government or any of its overseeing agricultural agencies? With such available assets in Bacon, maybe it is not all bad to let some benefits trickle on the poor as well, in order for them to see some hope, be motivated at least? It goes without saying that regardless of how poor these individuals are skills, sincere participation and discipline would have to be on the table.

Let not business assessments be only on revenue, variable and fixed costs, net income, influential major stakeholders, but also on the psychological and economic well-being of the entire place; especially, perhaps, with emphasis on weaning the poor away from their reliance on donors, on dependence of hand-outs regardless of who can give them-- dirty politicians, sincere, humanitarian earthlings, the religious, crooks and what have you.

After all, the inherently rich and/or fortunate who would think of this industry as another area to become richer and more fortunate will certainly, not totally enjoy in peace, all the benefits they could rake from this, if the backdrop against which their business activities are drawn and conducted, consists of an atmosphere of exploitation, greed for income upon which discontented, hard-up workers are molded, and later on pushed by hopelessness to gang and rebel memberships, to devious schemes by some politicians.

Sometimes, poverty is such amidst abundance and progress.

Bacongnon man aco said...

To begin with, pili is one of the easiest trees to grow. One can just throw a fruit to the ground and it will grow, almost wildly. In fact, I believe most of the productive trees in Bacon, and possibly in Sorsogon, grew "wild", i.e., not planted and nurtured by humans - certainly true of my trees in San Isidro. One very good thing about the pili tree is once it starts bearing fruit, it does not stop until the tree dies. It also takes a much shorter time to recover (compared to the coconut) after typhoons.

The challenge is that pili takes a long time (at least 7 years normally) to bear fruit and be productive. And if you get the male species, you're out of luck. It can happen that the male tree will grow in your property while the female tree will grow in your neighbor's property and bear all the fruits. And you can't do anything about it.

Pili can grow anywhere. Poor folks who might have a small plot of land where their house stands can have a tree in their backyard which can produce the fruit. While this is probably a good possible source of income for the poor, the approach should be long term to provide for the time from planting to the time the tree starts bearing fruit.

I don't know who should take the initiative - the political leadership, the government technical group or private capital. But now is a good time as any to launch that initiative to grow pili trees and to provide assistance, technical and/or financial, to current growers of pili trees.

Personally, I intend to get involved in this field. It will take some time though. I now reside overseas and will take some years before I can take that step.

Misbil said...

This is a much, much better discussion. Very productive.
I like it.

European said...

True Misbil, but only in a conversational level because there are many deaf ears, antiquated minds, lazy bodies and political opportunists in Bacon, to say the least.

Peta said...

I admire Bacongnon, Its Me, El Muralla for their intelligent commentaries.

The problem in Bacon is the lack of capital to finance projects and industries. But this is not unique because almost all towns and villages in the world are the same. That's the reason why people like us, generation after generation left Bacon for opportunities in the cities and abroad. That is repeated everywhere
in the world.

Bacongnon First said...

Latest News Report from Tagalog TV and Fil-Am newspapers:

1. One of the 3 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry is a 79 year old American Richard Heck who lives in Manila since retiring in 1989 from the University of Delaware. Mr. Heck and 2 Japanese scientists separately made outstanding contributions in organic chemistry, a field whose basis is carbon, one of the essential elements of life and industrial synthetics.
2. Jueteng scandal involving top officials in local and national government has been the headline news in the past several weeks.
Ironically, Sorsogon was not officially mentioned although Jueteng is so prevalent in the Bicol Region.
3.President Aquino is for responsible parenthood(birthcontrol)but against abortion. Aquino's position that it is the parents'final decision to choose from various family planning method is vehemently opposed by the Catholic Bishops conference of the Philippines. Senate President Enrile and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto are against condoms and contrceptives being subsidized by the government. The Philippine estimated population at 94 million is now the 12th most populous nation in the world.
4. Former President Gloria Arroyo who was president for 9 years and was dogged by allegations of widespread corruption and of cheating to win the 2004 election, is now being officially investigated by the "truth commission" of DOJ, a campaign promise by President Aquino.
5. The latest survey by SWS revealed that seven out of ten Filipinos or 70% of the population are satisfied with the performance of President Aquino. The survey published in the Business World showed Aquino receiving very good ratings in all geographical areas.
The Philippine Senate also gave President Aquino favorable rating during the first 100 days in office.
6. The ABS-CBN tv news showed stewards and stewardesses of a domestic airline in the Philippines performing dancing in a modern choregraphy while giving instructions on the various flight safety measures. Some passengers were amused, some find them ridiculous. A formal complaint was made to stop the dancing.
7 Practicing doctors in Mindanao are now arming themselves amid continuing threat of kidnapping. Doctors are now common targets of kidnapping specially those doing volunteer work in the villages. There was an incident where a nurse was gang raped and left for dead.
8. Filipino nurses were honored in Vienna Austria recently for the decades of efficient services they provided for the Viennese people in various local hospitals and nursing homes.
The above reccgnition is just one of many global Filipinos, individually and in group who were honored and recognized for their achievements and talents in various fields of endeavors.

Florence, Italy said...

Thank you so much for the Phil. news.

Romantico said...

Also yesterday's TV news mentioned that the bachelor President Aquino already broke up with his fiancee Shalani. President Aquino was seen in a Manila high class restaurant the other night with a beautiful woman.

Leo Martinez said...

This is not the first time I saw this article, but only in this site I read it. Interesting indeed.

I have some relatives in San Isidro and they are not planting Pili trees anymore; I also asked some friends from Guinlajon/Rizal area and they all tell me that Pili trees are fave to cut than wait for it to bear nuts. Besides it command a good price for its lumber.

Perhaps one can visit the DA office in Sorsogon and check if they have updated article.