Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ARMM Still RP’s Top Seaweed Producer ; Davao Eyed As Seaweed-Producing Area

Davao City is being eyed as an ideal seaweed production area but the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is still the top seaweed producer of the Philippines accounting for 70% of the country’s seaweed production.

This was bared by Ronald Simbajon, a Marine Biologist and Seaweed Consultant who presented the unique investment opportunities of seaweed farming during the Mindanao Investment Conference held in the city from November 25 to 26.

Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are among the areas with high seaweed production but they are selling raw or dried seaweeds to processors who export it to China and other countries. China alone requires 80 thousand metric tons of dried seaweeds per year.

Seaweeds are farmed not only for its known importance as food but also for the extraction of hydrocolloids which are used as food additives, Carageenan for sauces and salad dressing and alginates for paper coatings, gels, dyes, adhesives, and in textile printing.

Seaweed farming is very profitable, he said because it is in demand in the local and in the export market. About 80% of the total seaweed production of the country is exported. However, he said, there are only about 20 thousand hectares all over the country being used for seaweeds farming as opposed to the hundreds of thousands of hectares available.

“Even the top seaweed producing area like the ARMM is not able to maximize its seaweed production because of factors like peace and order and trader control,” Simbajon said.

ARMM can benefit from the dollar-earning potential of seaweeds but the fact that it still ranked high in the poverty incidence level statistics released by the National Statistical Coordination Board shows that it is not maximizing its production capacity. The NSCB said ARMM appeared to be the poorest region in Mindanao with a 61.8%.poverty incidence rate in 2006.

Seaweed farming may be the answer to the country’s poverty problems considering that it will benefit over 160 thousand families dwelling in islands and coastal areas.

“Seaweed production is a potential dollar earner for the country if only the seaweed production areas are expanded outside ARMM,” Simbajon said. The other seaweed producing areas in the country which contributes about 30% of the country’s total seaweed production are Palawan and Bohol

He said the Davao area is ideal for seaweeds farming because of the large bodies of water here. Seaweed thrives in brackish or seawater with sufficient light.

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