Government projects that showcase practical opportunities whether in farming or fisheries, will always have positive results.
Just like the mariculture park project in Lanao del Norte which was launched in 2010 in Panguil Bay. There, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) demonstrated fish farming in the ocean with circular and square cages for culturing bangus and other species.
The first cycle showcased the stocking of 20,000 bangus fingerlings in one circular cage with a diameter of 8 meters. Bangus grows well in sea water. In four months of culture, and spending P250,000 on feeds, they harvested eight tons. Half of the harvest was sold to employees of the government at a discounted price of P110 per kilo whereas the other half was sold through the ordinary market at P120 per kilo.
That meant a gross value of P920,000. Discounting the other expenses, that included the cost of fingerlings (P5 each for the 5-6 inches), the operation was profitable. The return on investment (ROI) was 16%, according to Stephen Harun who is the fellow in charge of the fisheries projects in Lanao del Norte.
Harun said they also experimented in stocking pompano which is a high-value species. This species also grows very fast in saline water. The trouble is that the feed is very expensive – P1,900 per 50 kilo bag. While the price is high, pompano is not as fast-selling as bangus.
At present, they are stocking seabass or apahap. This is also a high-value fish that fetches about P200 per kilo. But the feed is not as expensive as that of pompano.
FISH FARMER-ADOPTORS – While the small fishermen cannot afford the high-cost of circular fish cages that cost millions of pesos, they have nevertheless adopted the technology by making their own fishpens out of bamboo and other local materials. And they are culturing bangus which are not only fast-growing, they are also better-tasting than the bangus cultured in freshwater.
From a distance, one can see hundreds of fish farmers’ fishpens not far from the shores of Pnaguil Bay. According to Harun, there are hundreds of fishpens not only in Tubod but also in the towns of Lala and Baroy.
They are culturing bangus for good reasons. For one, fingerlings are readily available. Bangus grows fast in Panguil Bay so that in a culture period of four months, two pieces could weigh a kilo. And the price is also very good. At the Maranding market in Lala town, we saw bangus being sold at P140 per kilo.
According to Harun, the harvests are not only sold in Lanao del Norte. Much of the production is sold as far as Pagadian City which is 76 kilometers away from Tubod.