Seaweed harvest field day highlights need to boost production

[Philippines] A recent harvest field day in Buguey, Cagayan has highlighted the need to boost seaweed production in Cagayan Valley.

The Bureau of Fisheries (BFAR) in Region 2 had teamed up with the local government of Buguey town to hold the event and celebrate a bountiful harvest of seaweeds in the town’s Barangay Calamegatan after three years of lean production.

According to Judimar Taloza, president of the Calamegatan Fisherfolk Association, his group planted seaweeds (Gracilaria sp) last February and started to harvest last April. Harvest will run until August this year, Taloza said.

Taloza said the harvested seaweeds are usually dried and sold to a consolidator at 10 pesos per kilo.

“This is great, since seaweeds have been absent in our area for the past three years,” Taloza said.

Income from the harvest will be used for household expenses, especially with the upcoming start of school year, the fisherfolk leader added.

Taloza’s observation is confirmed by Dr. Severina Bueno, chief of the Fisheries Production Division of BFAR Regional Office 2. In her message, Bueno mentioned the sharp decline in seaweed production in Region 2. The decline, she noted, is possibly due to changes in environmental parameters and the lack of policy governing the exploitation of the said resource.

To arrest the decline, Bueno said her office is still aiming to put up seaweed nurseries and seaweed grow-out techno-demo projects in Cagayan province.

Bueno said the bureau needs to maintain its success in introducing Gracilaria culture in non-traditional sites in the region, particularly in Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Gonzaga, and Sta. Teresita towns in Cagayan province.

Seaweeds thrive naturally at the Buguey Lagoon in Buguey, Cagayan. However, the bureau intends to develop non-traditional sites through farming demos to expand production.

Alongside seaweed farming, the bureau also conducts processing demos to increase seaweed use and promote the produce’s health benefits.

Seaweeds have a number of food, non-food, and industrial uses. Locally, the seaweed is sold fresh as food and is also used as an ingredient in a number of seaweed-enhanced products like miki, canton, chips, and pickles.

Gracilaria is also used as feed for farmed fish, particularly Siganids, also known as malaga.

During the harvest day, held last May 29, the parties also agreed to provide bancas for harvesting, form a cooperative among seaweed farmers and gatherers and fish cage operators, conduct training for proper handling, and provide other seaweed paraphernalia.

The harvest field day was attended by local seaweed producers, local officials, BFAR officials, Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines president Alfredo Pedrosa, and Seaweed Action Officers from Regions 1, 3, 4a, 5, 6, and 8. (Simeon Dilan/PNA)


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