“WHAT is considered as the poor man’s meat?” That was the question my teacher asked in my Food and Nutrition class in high school that I could never forget. I also often ask this to the participants every time I talk about nutrition matters.

The answer of course is “mungo” or mung bean. It is the long-time seed-friend of many Filipinos. Its high protein content is the reason it is grown in mass production by many farmers. It is the cheapest major source of protein in the country. Aside from its 20 to 25 percent protein content, it is also rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

My teacher then would teach us that as a poor man’s meat, only a little meat from livestock with mungo would complete your diet. It becomes a veritable source of an almost complete food for many. In today’s cost of meat, why will you buy meat for P200 per kilo if you can get your protein and more from mungo for P5 to P10?

The Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) has developed some varieties with these important food qualities of mungbean in mind. There are actually nine varieties with commercially and nutritionally desirable characteristics. These are Pag-asa 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and the commercial varieties: IPB lines-Pag-asa 13 or NSIC Mg 8, Pagasa 15 or NSIC Mg 9, and Pag-asa 17 or NSIC Mg 10.

A package of technology has been produced already by the researchers of the IPB-UPLB and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). Maybe you can visit our own BPI-La Granja National Crop Research and Development Center (LGNCRDC) in La Carlota City.

Actually they are mass-producing these legumes-mung bean and soya bean for the farmers’ seeds. But for general information of the technology, I am giving you some pointers here:

Climate and soil- Mungbean is a dry season crop and can be grown best in rotation with rice and corn. One recommendation I always advocate to the farmers in the lowland is to have their soil rested from main crop and get a nitrogen source for the soil with the stables from the legumes. Dry season planting is done from September to October or late dry season, February to March.

Mungbean can be profitably grown in different types of soil but a well-drained soil is best especially if you plant it during wet season (May to June) which some farmers are doing.

Land preparation and planting- Well-prepared land and sufficient soil moisture assure seeds’ uniform germination, rapid establishment in the soil, and strong competition with weeds.

Water management - Mungbean is relatively tolerant to drought but it needs water during critical stages of development—at germination stage and just before and during flowering and pod-filling stages.

Nutrient management - The crop has a symbiotic relationship with the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the ground. Most leguminous crops do. That is why it does not need so much nitrates from the chemical fertilizer or you will restrict the nitrogen fixation process. In fact, due to this ability of the crop, it is recommended that farmers use it also as green manure for the benefit of the succeeding crop by plowing it under during the flowering stage.

What it needs are phosphorous and potassium. They are much needed to effectively grow mung bean. Seed inoculation with appropriate rhizobia is included in fertilization activities. Of course, the best practice if you grow mung bean commercially is to have your soil analyzed to have effective and efficient fertilization of your crop.

Crop protection - It is my advocacy that farmers always practice ecological pest management over integrated pest management to manage pest and diseases of mung bean. It takes a longer discussion on this matter that my space would limit my discussion. You may need to see your agriculturist in the area if you wish to grow mung bean.

Harvesting and processing - Mungbean is ready for harvesting 60 to 70 days after planting. Harvesting is done as soon as 75% of the pods are dried. Harvesting is done by hand-picking and is repeated 10 to 15 days after. But with the new varieties now, second flush of flowers will come out after completion of priming of pods.

Sun-drying and threshing the pods placed inside the sack are the main activities after harvest. Clean and dry to 14 percent moisture and store in air-tight container if you opt to store it first and wait for low supply to get the maximum price of your produce.

Hope to see more landed farmers grow this valuable crop in our province since we have a favorable climate here not only for mung bean, but for many other crops as well.