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Catanduanes Shifts from Pig to Tilapia - BM

VIRAC, Catanduanes—Instead of pigs that entail expensive food, Catanduanes now plans to raise tilapia to ensure food security in the island province.

The island province, under its Livelihood Vehicle for Job Regeneration Program, used to maintain a hog-breeding station that produced quality stocks for medium-scale and backyard piggery projects. These piggeries were put up by families and individuals who invested in the production of meat, but abandoned several years ago when these local businessmen incurred financial losses due to the high cost of maintenance.

“Later on, we experimented on tilapia-raising using the abandoned hog-raising project. We found it more feasible and effective in job generation and food production. Now, we are bent on pursuing this newfound food-production venture,” provincial agriculturist Herbert Evangelista told the BusinessMirror over the weekend.

Evangelista said the province’s tilapia-production project enjoys the support of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that provided the provincial government last week with a P500,000 fund for the establishment of a hatchery in the province.

The amount, which was turned over by Dennis del Socorro, BFAR regional director for Bicol, to Gov. Joseph Cua would be used for the acquisition of tilapia seed stock, maintenance and other requirements for the putting up of the hatchery, Evangelista said.

The fund grant, which according to del Socorro is part of the BFAR’s food-sufficiency and antipoverty programs designed for the Bicol fisherfolk communities, is covered by a memorandum of agreement that provides for a P250,000 counterpart of the province to shoulder labor, electricity, supplies and tilapia feeds.

“We are undertaking this kind of program for the development of the region’s mariculture zones where tilapia and other freshwater fish production is being given attention not only for food security, but also as an alternative source of income for fisherfolk,” the BFAR regional chief said.

Del Socorro said the successful implementation of the project shall make the island of Catanduanes self-sufficient in tilapia and liberate itself from its dependence on supplies coming from the Bicol mainland.

The tilapia hatchery, which the provincial government is set to establish at a vast area within its former hog-breeding facility in barangay Simamla here, would serve later as a source of fingerlings that would be made available to local mariculture project operators as well as backyard raisers, Evangelista said.

It will initially make use of the 12 abandoned pig pens as tilapia ponds. Each pen will be seeded with 500 fingerlings every month to address the expected demand, he said.

“The project will later on be expanded to include grow-out ponds. The need for commercial feeds would be partly addressed by an effort to utilize other materials through feed conversion, a new technology being adopted by BFAR,” Evangelista said. The hatchery complex would also be planted to abaca and fruit trees and accommodate other food animals such as goats, sheep and carabaos, he added.

“As a province prone to calamities like typhoons, floods and landslides, we are impressed with the attention being accorded us by the BFAR and other government agencies as well as non-government organizations (NGOs),” Cua said.

The province had received grants from the national government for improved medical services, including proper accommodations of members by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) in its Eastern Bicol Medical Center.

Earlier, the governor said, the Fiber Industry Development Authority provided the province modern abaca-stripping machines that enhance production of abaca fiber, the main local industry that has made the province the No. 1 abaca producer and exporter in the country.

The Agencia Española de Cooperation Ingternational para Desarollo and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities were among the international NGOs that have contributed significantly to the island’s desire to remain on its feet despite the repeated disasters rendered by recent typhoons, he said.

Written by Danny O. Calleja / Correspondent
Sunday, 20 December 2009 17:23
Source: Business Mirror

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