Seaweed industry expansion eyed in Davao Region

Subscribe Now December 03, 2014 at 09:14am

The Southern Mindanao Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMARRDEC), a group composed of government agencies and academic institutions in the Davao Region, is initiating steps to expand the seaweed industry in the region towards commercial production.

Dr. Della Grace Bacaltos of the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST), a SMARRDEC member, said among the immediate goals i to increase the existing 400 hectares of seaweed farming area in Davao del Sur province by another 200 hectares in the coastal town of Sta. Cruz.

“We want to expand the areas for the seaweed industry in the region and to boost value-added in order to help the farmers,” Ms. Bacaltos said in an interview.

The Davao Region produced about 3,670 metric tons of seaweed in 2013, with more than 90% coming from Davao del Sur, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The region’s production, however, is not sufficient to run at capacity the only seaweed processor in Davao, Martsons Food Corp., which processes 500 metric tons every month.

“We only supply less than 50% of Martsons’ needs. That is why they are getting supply from Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi,” Ms. Bacaltos said.

The Zamboanga Peninsula produced 218,789 metric tons of seaweed in 2013, with almost 50% coming from Zamboanga Sibugay province. Tawi-tawi, on the other hand, was the biggest producer in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), accounting for almost half of the ARMM’s 609, 164 metric tons total seaweed harvest.

“We’re trying to promote seaweed because it is one of the major livelihoods of the farmers in the coastal areas. We have also promoted seaweed products that will be commercialized,” Ms. Bacaltos said.

A Davao region seaweed association is being pushed to bring together the farmers as a collective supplier.

As a group, Ms. Bacaltos said, the small-scale seaweed farmers will be able to get the right price for their produce by selling directly to processors instead of the independent traders.

SMARRDEC is also evaluating micro-financing options for the farmers through government banks such as the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines.

Further, the consortium is looking at diversifying the seaweed products of the region, including fertilizer, processed food products like crackers and noodles, and beauty items such as make-up and soaps.

Ms. Bacaltos said the seaweed harvest in Davao at present is either sold fresh for consumption in the wet markets or dried for the traders.

SMARRDEC and SPAMAST recently held a forum for the revitalization of the seaweed industry in Davao Region through Science and technology (S&T) interventions.

Seaweeds are primary sources of agars, alginates, fucellaran, and carrageenan, which are used in various commercial, industrial, and pharmaceutical products.

The Philippines is among the top 10 seaweed producers in the world, with the biggest production coming from the provinces of Antique, Bohol, Palawan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Sibugay.


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