Kamote Cue! Kamote Chips! We always hear our local maglalako and street vendors selling this. In the market, we see kamote and we appreciate how cheap they are. For the ordinary Filipino, it’s just a local crop that we turn into dessert treats.
Yes, we are quite familiar with Kamote. Internationally it is called as sweet yam o sweet potato. For the scientists, they call it ‘Ipomoea batatas’. Way back during the Second World War, the Filipinos cultivated kamote when food was scarce and most have to rely on food that can easily ease their hunger and are easy to cultivate. So what’s with this kamote? Well this kamote could be one of the ways wherein we can win over some of our country’s problem on food and poverty.
Everyday we see people complaining about hunger and our government is finding different ways and means to eradicate this massive problem but I wonder, why do we still take kamote for granted?
If you are one of those Filipinos who are not yet informed of the benefits packed in this root crop, here they are:
1. Sweet potato is cheap. Even Secretary Domingo Panganiban of the National Antipoverty Commission (NAPC) adviced farmers to “grab the economic opportunity offered by the current food crisis to go back to their hometowns and farms to start planting camote and other crops to supply the needs of urban areas like Metro Manila where food costs continue to rise.”
Planting these root crops will allow farmers to earn more than what most minimum-wage earners get, without the expense of daily commute to poor-paying jobs in the urban areas.
2. Kamote has multifarious uses besides being a food substitute for rice and corn, it can also be a potential source of raw materials for industrial uses and food delicacies. It can be processed into feeds, flour, starch and pectin for local and export markets. The flour can further be converted into fermented products such as soy sauce, and alcohol. With the addition of saccharides, it can be made into wine, vinegar and nata.
3. All parts of the kamote plant, especially in the leaves and tips, ranked highest in nutritional value among other commercial vegetables. It contains protein, lipids, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients needed by our body.
4. Recent studies conducted by South Korea’s Rural Development Administration shows that kamote contains antioxidants that protect the human body from oxidative stress that is associated with many diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Among antioxidants found in kamote crops are: chlorogenic acid that slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal which contributes to the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus; isoclorogenic acid; and caffeic acid shown to act as a carcinogenic inhibitor.
Even the North Carolina Stroke Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association have all endorsed the sweet potato for its disease prevention and healing qualities.
Americans and Koreans call the kamote a “super food that heals.” Progressive countries have praised this cheap root crop that we, Filipinos, just look down at.
For us who have gone through school, everytime we would get bad grades we were called “nangangamote” . A term used for the losers, those who were thought to have no chance of a good future. Nangangamote was telling the habitual flunker to “just go to the mountains and plant kamote.”
Kamote is not an incompetent plant and we should know how valuable this crop is. We go on and blame current economic situations even graft and corruption for malnutrition, poverty and unemployment but what we need to do is just look for alternatives.
We, Filipinos have yet to learn how to harness more of what we have, to avoid under estimating our natural resources than complain on things that we do not possess. For even a simple root crop such as the kamote can prove to be a winner amongst other crops.
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