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The government is looking to boost domestic production of seaweed this year. (Photo: BFAR)

Govt wants to boost 2010 seaweed production

Click on the flag for more information about Philippines PHILIPPINES
Friday, April 30, 2010, 16:30 (GMT + 9)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking to an elevated production of seaweed for 2010 to meet the plant’s emergent demand worldwide by financially assisting people's organisations (POs) so they can grow and culture more lucrative seaweed.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Malcolm Sarmiento said that the agency will first focus on Central Visayas, Oriental Mindoro in the Mimaropa region and Guimaras in Western Visayas for the execution of this capability-building scheme.

BFAR's Central Visayas office is spending PHP 3 million (USD 66,763) in the seaweed programme this year and is now monitoring the projects of 60 POs in the region, according to Sarmiento.

The Fisheries Financing Programme (FFP) -- a joint undertaking of the DA's Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and BFAR -- is also carrying out a seaweed processing programme in Balatasan, Oriental Mindoro with PHP 500,000 (USD 11,127) that would help 30 seaweed producers.

As well, BFAR, ACPC and FFP are working on a seaweed farming expansion project in Sibunag, Guimaras, benefitting from a PHP 2.5 million (USD 55,636) loan for 162 seaweed farmers.

The FFP is a pioneering lending programme created by ACPC Resolution No 31-02 series of 2007 under the Agro Industry Modernisation Credit and Financing Programme (AMCFP), the government's umbrella financing programme for agriculture and fisheries.

The plan starts with the ACPC placing PHP 33 million (USD 738,585) in the Land Bank as deposit hold-out (DHO) fund to cover the exposure to new conduits not accredited by the Bank.

At this point, conduit organisations either retail the funds as microfinance loans to small fishing households or as loans to support any activities in the value chain of small players in the fisheries sector.

Moreover, ACPC is amping up the completion of a tilapia production project in Laurel, Batangas, where the Land Bank granted a PHP 500,000 (USD 11,127) loan for 30 fisherfolk beneficiaries. FFP is also covering this project.

The burgeoning global organic-food market has boosted the demand for seaweeds.

The US is the biggest market for Philippine’s seaweeds, followed by Europe, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Russia.

Carageenan was recently added into the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic food list. Carageenan is a gelling agent used as thickener or emulsifier in commercial products from medicine, toothpaste and ice cream to chocolates, cosmetics and beer.

Seaweed farming is a low capital business venture and does not necessitate the use of feeds or fertilizer. For a 45-day cropping period, the average production of seaweed per ha is 26,000 kg.

The Philippines is now the world's third main seaweed producer after China and Japan. The country has remained the world's top supplier of carageenan for the past seven years.

Yet, the Philippine's seaweed production falls short compared to the rising demand in the global market, which is why some local seaweed processing companies have to import the product to meet local demand.

Related article:

- Seaweed is the new caviar

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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