June 8, 2016


Protein-enriched feed from copra developed



Scientists in the Philippines have developed a protein-enriched copra meal as feed for swine and poultry, which is a cheaper alternative to soybean, a major ingredient in animal feed mix.


Using the solid-state fermentation technology, scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños' National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) were able to decrease the copra meal's fibre content (which is low in nutrients) and enrich it with microorganisms that improved its protein content.


BIOTECH will produce PECM on a pilot scale by yearend, starting with one tonne every three days.


"Commercial [feed] companies could start the field trials [using our] inoculants," said Dr. Laura J. Pham, head of the PECM project, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.


Pham told the Inquirer during the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the pilot-production facility that the PECM could help poultry and swine raisers who are saddled with the high cost of soybean. "It can [bring] a lot of savings. Per kilogramme of pork, [the PECM] is about 30 centavos cheaper [than the usual protein source]," Pham said.


The PECM uses waste products from coconut oil, of which the Philippines has an abundant supply, being the world's largest producer of coconuts. PECM is seen to replace 40-50% of the soybean contained in animal feed.


According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCCAARD), which funded the project, the Philippines had been importing about US$500 million worth of soybean yearly, based on 2012 data.


The country's swine and poultry industries require about 3.3 million tonnes of animal feed annually, and about 10-20% of the feed mix includes soybean meal, it added.


Meanwhie, a local government agriculturist, Marlon Tobias, doubted the palatability of copra for swine, although he said the PECM is a welcome technology. In Laguna, province, most farmers use "home-mix", which is 30% rice bran and 70% knife fish, a predator species in the Laguna Lake that threatens native aquaculture, he told the Inquirer.


"This is another way to make useful the knife fish", he said.-Rick Alberto
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