Adlay (Coix lacryma-jobi, also known as Job’s tears) is a tall grain-bearing plant of the Poaceae family (grass family) native to Southeast Asia. It is grown in Davao and Northern Mindanao in higher areas or uplands, where rice and corn do not grow well. The plant resembles to corn and sorghum for its leaves and roots, but also for its growth. This plant can grow over 2 metres in height when put in fertile soils, but can survive under any type of climate conditions in tropical countries. The round flowers develop into seeds – which can be violet, yellowish or white – with a hard and shiny shell.
Adlay can be harvested 5 to 6 months after planting and is said to help preventing and treating colon, lung, liver and breast cancer. It can also treat allergies and boost the immune system. Local indigenous communities use it as a substitute to corn and rice flour, key ingredient to the preparation of local sweet delicacies such as biko, suman and kutsinta, but it also represents a good source to feed livestock. In addition, adlay is used to prepare food during harvest time for the rituals to thank the communities’ Gods. Despite its importance for the local cuisine, adlay is facing extinction as agribusiness are encroaching indigenous agricultural lands to make space for mining.