06202022 2

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi - The Seaweed Research and Development Center at Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography is producing a new strain of seaweeds resistant to disease and climate change.

Dr. Sitti Zayda Halun, Director for Research, explained that seaweed farmers in Tawi-Tawi have been planting the same strain for more than fifty years, which are already susceptible to ice-ice disease.

Iceice disease is a condition that causes the whitening and hardening of the seaweed's tissues caused by changes in salinity, ocean temperature and light intensity, resulting to low productivity.

“Bumaba yung quality ng raw dice seaweeds natin, yung production natin, bumaba din dahil hindi maganda ang mga seedlings na ginagamit,” Halin said.

Tawi-Tawi used to be the top producer of raw diced seaweed in Southeast Asia.

Carrageenan, which is an extract from raw diced seaweeds, serves as a main ingredient for cosmetics, medicine, and food.

“Naunahan na tayo ng mga ibang bansa, tulad ng Malaysia, and Indonesia,” Halun added.

The new strain that they are producing through tissue culture and spores is unaffected by ice-ice disease. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) funded the program. The new strain of seaweeds is currently being distributed to farmers for mass production.

But there’s more to be done, Dr. Halun said. Aside from the research aspect, the program needs facilities to improve the production and income of seaweeds farmers such as processing plants and storage facilities.

“The goal is to be able to process seaweeds chips that can be sold as raw materials,” Dr. Halun explained.

Having industry-based shared facilities forms part of the Mindanao Development Agenda of Mindanao Development Authority to ensure the productivity and resilience of the agri and fisheries sectors. MinDA Chairperson Maria Belen Acosta said stakeholders should work hand in hand to reposition Tawi-Tawi as a major source of seaweeds products.

Tawi-Tawi province is composed of eleven island municipalities, with fishing and seaweed farming as the main source of livelihood.

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