Opening of the new seaweed research lab. (Photo: armm.gov.ph)
New seaweed laboratory will help production boom
Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
A tissue culture laboratory worth PHP 4.4 million (USD 102,500) recently launched in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will boost seaweed production, the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.
BFAR funded the lab’s construction in an effort to improve the Philippines’ seaweed output and help perk up the regional economy, told Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala.
Seaweed is one of the region’s best-performing export products, and building a new laboratory will help drive improved quality and production, believes Hadja Salma H Sabdani, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries- ARMM seaweed action officer.
"ARMM has the highest production of seaweed at approximately 60 per cent all over the country, and seaweeds have a very high demand in the world market…It requires better management to increase its impact to the regional economy," she said, reports Sun.Star.
“The laboratory will immediately go on full operation upon the conduct of training of technical people assigned to run it,” Sabdani added.
Seaweeds are used to produce carrageenan, a thickening and stabilizing substance popular worldwide in processed foods as well as toiletries, pharmaceuticals and other products, Sabdani said.
But Indonesia also exports seaweed and the country produces it more extensively and cheaply than the Philippines, according to Growth with Equity in Mindanao, a US-funded development programme.
In the Philippines, seaweed is produced mostly in Mindanao, where 68 per cent of the country’s output originates, with 22 per cent and 10 per cent in the Visayas and Luzon, respectively. Within ARMM, seaweed -- primarily its cottonii variety – is mainly farmed in the island-provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan, said the country’s Seaweed Industry Association (SIAP).
In 2009, the country produced 65,617 tonnes of seaweed, according to SIAP.
The new laboratory, Sabdani said, would help advance the efforts of the autonomous Muslim region to remain the top seaweeds producer in the Philippines.
Sabdani said the new lab contains four rooms for processing and maintenance of seaweeds, a hot chamber where the raw aquatic products raw are sterilised, a product cleansing area and a working staff quarter.
ARMM encloses Maguindanao province and is one of the country's poorest areas.
- Lucrative species targeted for aquaculture
By Natalia Real