072320 fish

by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Ice-making machinery, blast freezers, cold storages and fish processing facilities will soon be established in Mindanao coastal areas and islands with rich fishing grounds to boost the region's productivity and propel its economy.

The Fisheries Post-Harvest and Processing Facilities have been identified by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) as among the priority projects to be funded by the P2.1-B Grant Fund from the European Union which was approved recently.

I have personally recommended for the inclusion of these projects in the Mindanao Peace and Development Program or MINPAD because of the expected contribution to the program to lower poverty, increase productivity and propel Mindanao economy.

In the many trips I made to the different parts of the country, I personally witnessed how precious sea products are wasted because of the lack of simple ice-making machines.

During a trip to Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat when I was still Agriculture Secretary, former Governor Pax Mangudadatu and the fishermen told me that their fishing grounds teem with the very valuable Tuna.

Fishermen, however, could not catch as much as they like because they only have ice in ice-candy bags to preserve the fish.

This is the same problem is Davao Oriental, Surigao, Agusan del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga Peninsula, Saranggani and in the island provinces of Dinagat, Camiguin, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

In Tawitawi, for example, high value fish are sold by heaps or "tapok" and do not reach the prime market because of the lack of ice and post-harvest facilities.

Proposals for the establishment of the fish post-harvest and processing facilities made when I was Secretary of Agriculture were not immediately approved and funded mainly because of the unfamiliarity of many of our economic and budget planners on the critical role of ice-making and cold storage facilities on the development of the country's aqua and fisheries industry.

The recent signing of the agreement between the EU and the Philippine Government through the Department of Finance of the P2.1-B Grant Fund to be implemented by MinDA will now allow the implementation of these projects without going through the tedious legislative and bureaucratic funding processes.

All that is needed is for MinDA to identify critical projects which would address three major concerns: Poverty Alleviation, Increased Productivity and Powering Mindanao Economy.

In the Mindanao Aqua and Fisheries Development Plan which is now being crafted, Post-Harvest and Processing Facilities will be established in each of the major fishing areas of Mindanao.

Value-adding will be introduced with fishermen's families taught and trained on producing processed or semi-processed fisheries and aqua products like de-boned and flavored Bangus or vacuum-packed blast-frozen high-value fish or vacuum-packed smoked and dried fish.

All of these MAFDEV Complexes will be interconnected through digital communications to monitor the daily catch or production which would be linked to the established outlets or markets.

Private logistics providers will be engaged to bring the products to the local market or for the export market.

With the approval of the MAFDEV, development of the fishing grounds could start before the end of the year.

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