The project documented the indigenous food plants (IFPs) of seven upland and remote municipalities of Ilocos Norte, Philippines from November 2008 to January 2010. The generated information include the IFPâ€™s identity and taxonomic nomenclature, socio-economic importance, ethnobotany and geographic location. The upland communities comprise of Ilocanos and other tribal groups such as Isneg, Igorot, Yapayao and Tingguian.
A total of 46 IFPs representing 26 plant families were identified. Majority of them are wild species; the others are landraces or native varieties of cultivated crops. The identified IFPs are important PGR contributing to food sufficiency, nutrition and supplementation of household income in the study sites. These plants are prepared mainly as vegetable dishes; sometimes as flavoring, spice or garnishing; or as delicacy or snack. Ethnobotanical data indicate that the plants have become an integral part of the peopleâ€™s daily diet.
Geomorphic and soil characteristics influenced the diversity of the identified IFPs. Some IFPs showed specific elevation, temperature and soil moisture requirements. Many of them, however, showed adaptability to a wide range of geomorphic and soil conditions.
Several promotional activities to enhance peopleâ€™s awareness and appreciation of the IFPs, thereby encouraging them to become partners in the conservation of these resources, were undertaken. These include the production of IEC materials; presentation of research results in scientific gatherings, lecture fora and to LGU representatives; booth exhibit/display; and establishment of a botanical garden.
So far there is no known LGU initiative in the province to conserve the IFPs and their habitats. Recognizing the benefits from these IFPs, the upland communities conserve them through in situ conservation and conservation by use. Additionally, the Mariano Marcos State University collected available germplasm and maintained them as living plants and seeds. To prevent further genetic erosion and consequently protect the IFPs from extinction, collaborative efforts and interventions among various stakeholders should be instituted and strengthened.