Philippines’ companies asked to boost production of seaweeds

SEAWEED companies are encouraged to boost local production of raw dried seaweeds to meet the growing global demand.

Florence Sevilla, senior agribusiness socialist of the Center for Food and Agribusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific, said the seaweed/carrageenan industry will still remain a “star player” in food exports on the back of the increase demand on food and growing population as well as high purchasing power of emerging markets.

Sevilla said the seaweed/carrageenan is one of the five sectors in the country’s agribusiness that have high revenue streams potential.

Apart from the improved economies, the increased demand for health, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, personal care and beauty products as well as the opening of markets for new applications are projected to drive the global requirement on seaweed.

“We project the global carrageenan industry to grow five percent annually,” Sevilla said in a forum hosted by the Department of Trade Industry here.

While the Philippines remains to be a competitive player, being no. 1 in quality of raw materials in terms of carrageenan yield and overall quality parameters, Sevilla said our local seaweed industry needs a big boost in production and government support.

“Government assistance is needed so more people will go into seaweed farming,” she said.

Other factors that limit the growth of the industry include the unstable seaweed production and price, limited access to affordable and less stringent financing schemes, limited research and development on new carrageenan application and slow marketing and product development.

Transport issues to remote areas and high cost of shipment also hinder the industry’s fast growth.

“More work still needs to be done to support the sector but we are confident we will remain one of the leading players given our inherent strengths,” said Sevilla.

The Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle, an area that has vast potential and is conducive for seaweed farming, she said. The country, she added is also blessed with human resource and we also have the capability to extract carrageenan and tailor to specific application.

The Philippine government is set to release the roadmap for the seaweed industry in the first quarter this 2015.

In preparation for the Asean integration, Sevilla said the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Asosiasi Rumput Laut Indonesia (ARLI).

The partnership includes sharing of good farming practices and cultivating enhancement and marketing expansion practices. Both Siap and Arli envision the possibility of investments or joint ventures in seaweed farming and processing in either country.

Indonesia and the Philippines are the two top sources of seaweeds in Asean.


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