A MORE savory “lechon” may soon come from Kalinga.

The Kalinga State University’s (KSU) has patented the “Yookah” brand of carefully bred, white socked native black pigs aiming to supply the market with safe and quality hogs.

The KSU led the celebration of the first Yookah festival, June 27 and 28 with close to 1,000 participants from all over the country themed “Black Pigs living astray – the Kalinga way.”

The fiesta was highlighted with a coffee pavilion, trade fair, seminars, forums, and business techno for a, promotional competitions, farm visits and tours, product launch and the memorandum of agreement signing.

“Yookah” is a native term by Kalinga folk to call the native pigs which mostly live free range in their backyards and now has become patented to the province.

The festival was staged by the KSU with the Department of Science and Technology [DOST] because native pigs play a significant and symbolic role in the cultures in the Cordillera especially among the various tribes of the Cordilleran people “These are important in various occasions and rituals like weddings, birthdays and deaths. Likewise, almost every household in the far flung areas in Kalinga, Benguet and the Mountain Province raise native pigs, there are still communities in the region that leaves animals astray, freely wandering.”

Festival proponent, Sharmaine Codiam said the Yookah brand has a ninety percent uniformity production of hogs with KSU producing white socked black pigs while other SUC’s producing pure black swines.

KSU revealed a declining trend in native pig populations in major native producing regions signals a serious threat in the local food security and to the livelihood opportunities of small pig raisers and consequently to the region’s economy as native pig production is among the most popular farming activities as potential source of income in these areas. In addition to the economic contributions of native pigs, it also contributes to the social and cultural needs of the rural dwellers.

KSU project leader of the study, Dr. Marcelino Saliw-an backed by the DOST with State Universities and Colleges [SUC’s] all over the country; under the national program on “Conservation, Improvement and Profitable Utilization of the Philippine Native Pigs,” with the Marinduque State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Benguet State University, Isabela State University, and University of the Philippine Los Banos, Eastern Samar State University and the Bureau of Animal Industry-National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center.

The national study, now on its fifth year is led by Dr. Arnolfo Monleon from the Marinduque State College who said “Lechon is one the most popular and sought after the product from native pigs. The trend of shifting consumer preference toward naturally produced food products further highlight the potentials of native pig production as source of additional income to rural dweller.

Monleon said pork is the most popular meat in the Philippines and through the years as population increases, along with income and preference for animal food products, so it’s demands. In 2012, per capita consumption of pork, including that from native pig, was estimated at 14.87 kg.

The study shows, consumer preference for the native pig meat is largely attributed to its unique taste, flavor and texture while traditional domestic or household consumers, institutional buyer (i.e. restaurant, supermarkets, a “healthy foods” processing company) ndicated demands for regular supply of native pig meat.

The Monleon study aims to develop breeding true to type populations of native pig with improved and predictable production performance and consistent product quality in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon and the Mimaropa regions.

During the Kalinga Yookah festival, talks were made on native pig studies like; Updates And Trends On The Native Pig Industry And Research And Development Program In The Philippines, Standard Preparation Of Smoked And Dried Etag, Production Management Practices Of Native Pigs, Impotence Of Heritage Animals, Its Conservation And Utilization, Development Of The Native Pig Information System And Native Pig Genetic; Now And The Future.

The Kalinga Yookah is characterized by its dense color with both female and male native pig colored black with white socks and are small with straight to low-setbacks with a body length of males at 59.75 while the females with 47.90. (With a report from Nica Regalario/University of Cordilleras Intern)