PRDP MIMAROPA Monitoring and Evaluation Unit Head Josephine De Sales (inset) explains the purpose of the proponent group profiling that was conducted with the members of the Johnson Island Fisherfolk Association in Johnson Island, Roxas, Palawan. (Photo by Leira Vic Colongon, DA-PRDP RPCO 4B InfoACE Unit)
Corazon Serna is a 31-year old fish vendor and one of the beneficiaries of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) enterprise in Barangay VI also known as Johnson Island in Roxas, Palawan.
Serna is one of the 50 members of the Johnson Island Fisherfolk Association (JIFA), the proponent group of the “Seaweeds Nursery, Production, and Marketing” subproject with an estimated cost of P2.35 million.
“Matagal na ako huling kumita sa seaweeds farming. Sana nga makabalik kaming mga huminto kasi dagdag kabuhayan din (The last time I profited from seaweeds farming was a long time ago. Hopefully, those of us who stopped will be able to do it again because it is also an additional livelihood),” said Serna who was a seaweeds farmer before becoming a full-time fish vendor.
Roxas has a total of 14 marine protected areas (MPAs) around its municipal waters and seven of which are recognized as Global Environment Facility (GEF) sites of the PRDP. Johnson Island is only part of the GEF sites in Green Island Bay, Roxas that was identified to effectively manage the preservation and rehabilitation of its damaged areas.
Because of this, fishing and other related activities are regulated to minimize the exploitation of marine resources in the area.
The proposed seaweeds farming is in support of the conservation of the Johnson Island MPA. It is a start-up enterprise that will be a part of JIFA’s profit-generating activities aside from fishing, selling ‘daing’ (dried fish), or raising livestock and poultry.
For current seaweed farmers, their small farms are still not enough for them to earn sufficient income. At the same time, they lack resources and modern machineries. This results to poor quality products that they can only sell at a low price.
Hence, the subproject is directed at improving and uplifting the socio-economic status of each member of the association as well as the other residents of Johnson Island.
The JIFA will harvest seaweeds from a two-hectare communal farm that will be expanded yearly during its implementation. The gathered seaweeds will be dried and sold to institutional buyers to use in food products, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, industrial, and other commercial purposes.
“With the help of this project from the World Bank, my number one mission is to slowly eradicate illegal fishing in Roxas. This is the main reason why I wanted to be able to put into action this alternative livelihood,” said Roxas Municipal Mayor Maria Angela Sabando.
According to Mayor Sabando, the resident fisherfolk will have no more reason to go into illegal fishing once the enterprise materializes. By developing the seaweeds industry, they will have the resources and technology to create more opportunities and increase their income.
Meanwhile, the JIFA will also be attending trainings on basic bookkeeping to further enhance their knowledge in effectively managing their day to day operations once their subproject is implemented. These trainings will be conducted by the I-REAP Component in cooperation with the local government unit and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.
The sustainability of the enterprise that will be established in Johnson Island is one the principal focus of the municipal government. Even after the special project, they want to see the commitment of the proponent group in continuing and hopefully being able to make their livelihood grow.
In a recent activity, the MIMAROPA Regional Project Coordination Office organized a profiling and survey of the said target beneficiaries. Lead by the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, the activity collected data that will be significant in determining the outcome and effectiveness of the interventions of the PRDP in terms of its project development objectives.