PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Seaweed farmers in Brgy. Manalo currently use a bamboo to dry their harvest. Drying is an essential segment of the value chain that can determine the market value of raw dried seaweeds. (Photo by Joven Delgado, Puerto Princesa City Agriculture Office)
The “Seaweed Production and Marketing” enterprise is the newest rural intervention that is listed to be funded by the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) in the MIMAROPA region. The subproject, proposed by the Pandan Marine Products Marketing Cooperative (PMPMC), was recently approved by the MIMAROPA project advisory board.
The Province of Palawan is the highest producer of seaweeds among the provinces of the MIMAROPA region; and the second highest among the provinces in the Philippines being only a few metric tons short of the total production of the Province of Tawi-Tawi. In 2018, as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority, Palawan produced 343,497.63 metric tons of seaweeds, a little lower than the 344,354.38 metric tons produced by Tawi-Tawi.
While the numbers remain high and competitive, seaweed farmers experience a lot of issues in the process of their production. For one, some don’t have access to proper drying facilities which is an essential step in producing high quality dried seaweeds.
“Usually if you pass by the highway, you can see on the side of the roads where they are drying the seaweeds so all the contaminants are there. The purpose [of the project] is for security. It is important that there will be less impurities because that will determine the quality of the seaweeds,” said City Agriculture Officer Melissa Macasaet.
This also affects traders since the losses that are incurred when farmers deliver substandard quality of seaweeds are sometimes borne by them.
The goal of the subproject, hence, is to address these concerns which currently is one of the main reasons for the low market price of raw dried seaweeds. It aims to improve the quality of the end products to give it a higher market value which will then give the farmers a more considerable income.
Likewise, the subproject aims to advance the current farming and postharvest practices on seaweeds to increase farm productivity. The need to adopt new technologies is more apparent at this time to contribute to the whole improvement of the seaweeds industry. Additionally, it will provide more employment opportunities for the members of the cooperative as well as the community.
The “Seaweed Production and Marketing” enterprise is estimated to cost P16.16 million which will funded by the Government, World Bank, City Government of Puerto Princesa and the proponent group PMPMC. It will be located in Masong Lagoon, Honda Bay, Brgy. Manalo, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and isexpected to benefit the 48 household members of the proponent cooperative.