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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Fishermen in 12 Mindanao fishing communities will soon be marketing Spanish Sardines and vacuum-packed Dried Fish as the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) provides them with steam-powered fish dryers, retort machines and vacuum-packing equipment.

The project of providing poor fishing families with post-harvest equipment to add value to their catch is part of the Mindanao Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Program initiated by MinDA.

The Mayors of Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay and Nasipit, Agusan del Norte have already signed the Memorandum of Agreement with MinDA in simple ceremonies this week.

The Grant Fund coming from the meager resources of MinDA will be used to acquire a locally fabricated Mini-Boiler, Steam-Powered Fish Dryer and Retort Machine for Spanish Sardines-making of a women's group in Barangay Ata-Atahon in Nasipit.

The same amount of Grant Fund given to Olutanga will be used in acquiring a bio-mass powered Mini-Boiler, a Steam-Powered Fish Dryer and a vacuum packing equipment to produce sanitary and high quality dried fish from the island town of Zamboanga Sibugay.

The identification of the post-harvest facilities needed by the towns was made during the series of trips I made as early as last year when MinDA designed the MinFAD.

The MinFAD aims to establish post-harvest facilities in at least 22 Fishing Grounds of Mindanao, including Basilan, Sulu and Tawitawi to improve the productivity of poor fishing communities.

Many of these rich fishing grounds lack the basic post-harvest facilities such as Ice-Makers, Blast-Freezers and Cold Storage, including Dryers for dried fish making and Retort Machines for bottled Spanish Sardines-making.

The post-harvest facilities and equipment which the first 12 fishing villages will receive were fabricated locally by a multi-awarded inventor from Butuan City, Engr. Rudy Cane.

Cane designed the bio-mass powered Mini-Boiler to produce steam for the Dryers which could be used even during rainy days and nighttime thus improving the productivity of the fishermen.

The Mini-Boiler also powers a mini-Retort Machine capable of steaming 500 bottles every 3 hours for Spanish Sardines-making.

The Vacuum-Packing Machine which will come in the package to be sourced from the commercial market.

All of these interventions will only cost P424,000 per location instead of millions if the facilities and equipment were to be acquired commercially.

Other towns which will soon receive the same equipment are Jabonga, Agusan del Norte which produces the Pijanga Dried Fish, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur which produces dried Mudfish and Catfish and Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur which also produces Dried Fish.

The remaining 7 fishing villages which will receive the Grant Fund from MinDA will be identified soon.

The Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Olutanga, Zamboanga Sibugay MinFAD Post-harvest facilities are expected to be operational by February this year, in time for the lifting of the Fishing Ban in most fishing grounds in Mindanao.

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