Philippines, Indonesia to sign agreement on seaweeds

THE Philippine government is currently negotiating with Indonesia for a comprehensive agreement on seaweeds farming, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

“The Indonesian government is willing to help us improve our capacity for seaweeds production,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said during the send-off ceremony for the department’s multipurpose ship carrying fishing paraphernalia, held recently at the Navotas fishing port…

Alcala, who recently visited Indonesia, said the country has “a long and successful history of mass-producing seaweeds and is willing to share its experiences with the Philippines.”

Early this year buyers from China expressed interest in buying big volumes of dried seaweeds from Mindanao. The interest was expressed by Chinese businessmen, led by Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China Zhang Weiguo, who visited Mindanao recently, accompanied by Filipino-Chinese businessmen.

Output from the various seaweeds-industry clusters in Mindanao, however, is still limited and cannot meet the volume required by the foreign buyers even if the harvest capacity of Surigao, Agusan, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu are combined.

The development prompted seaweed raisers in Mindanao to increase their respective areas for wider seaweeds production.

Currently, buyers of locally grown dried seaweeds of carrageenan plants in Surigao, Davao and Zamboanga process them into carrageenan powder for export to buyers in China, the US and Europe.

Carrageenan, a white powdery substance and usually prepared as refined or semirefined, is used for scores of consumer and industrial applications, from food, medicine and industrial products.

Pressed by the high demand for carrageenan but without enough production of raw materials, seaweeds producers from Mindanao are importing seaweeds from Indonesia.

Prices for dried seaweeds bought by local plants range from P36 to P40 a kilo, while wet seaweeds fetch only from P4 to P5 a kilo, particularly for varieties commonly used as a side dish.

Last year four commercially viable hybrid varieties of seaweeds were developed by the University of the Philippines’s Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), and is currently being prepared for mass propagation.

The newly developed seaweeds, are varieties of known seaweeds such as Kappaphycus spp and Eucheuma denticulatum, Dr. Marco Nemesio E. Montaño of the UPMSI said.

Montaño said the newly developed varieties can serve the country’s need for improved production of seaweeds for the growing need of carrageenan, for they are proven to be fast growing.

A hundred gram of a variety can reproduce into more than 1,000 kilos, or 1 ton for only 10 months, Montaño said.


Alladin S. Diega, Business Mirror

View original article at: Philippines, Indonesia to sign agreement on seaweeds

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