The vegetable soybean, popularly called Edamame, is a possible new export product of Jelfarm, the biggest okra exporter to Japan based in San Manuel, Tarlac City. Jef Fernandez, the executive assistant who manages Jelfarm, served us samples of his Edamame harvest during our visit together with a delegation of young Taiwanese farmers accompanied by their mentors on April 23, 2019. Jef said they will start commercially growing Edamame next year from March to May.
Edamame, although not considered a major crop, is a favorite snack food of the Japanese. Usually, the green pods that are 80% mature are boiled in salted water. The fingers simply push the seeds from the opened pods directly into the mouth. Usually, each pod contains two to three seeds that are bigger than those of the commercial dried soybean. The Edamame can be prepared in other ways besides being consumed as snack food. It can be cooked with other vegetables, made into soup, stir-fried and more.
Jef said they will grow Variety No. 9 from Taiwan which is highly acceptable in the Japanese market. This variety is harvestable in 72 days after planting. Coincidentally, Dr. Ma Yuh-An, chairman of the Central Taiwan Agricultural Cooperative in Taichung, was with the Taiwanese delegation and he had an enlightening exchange of views with Jef regarding Edamame. Dr. Ma informed Jef that the variety No. 11 has a flavor that is well liked by the Japanese. Instead of the greenish seeds of Taiwan No 9, the new variety has brown seeds,
There are certain production protocols to follow in order to succeed in producing a good crop of Edamame. The right proportions of the fertilizer elements and trace elements are critical in producing a crop with the desirable sweet and savory flavor. Time of planting, population density are also said to contribute to the desired quality of the harvest.
Anyway, we are sure that Jef and his researchers are well aware of the production techniques. Jef is hopeful, Edamame for export could become another money-maker for the farmers, for Jelfarm, and for the Philippine economy too.