Seaweed Industry Gets P265-M For 2013

Our good friend Max Ricohermoso is all smiles these days. The reason is that the industry he loves most got its biggest ever budget from the Department of Agriculture in 2013.

Ricohermoso, of course, is the chairman of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines. The DA allocated a total of P265 million for the expansion of seaweed production in suitable areas throughout the country. The allocation is about six times the 2012 budget for seaweeds which was P40.8 million.

There is a lot of room for expansion of seaweed production. The area suitable for production is about 255,000 hectares.

The budget will go into input assistance to farmers like healthy propagules that could be produced through tissue culture. No less than P232.7 million will go into input assistance that will also include postharvest facilities and infrastructures.

About P9.7 million will be used for nursery maintenance, demo and test plots.
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The expansion program will also involve state colleges and universities as well as the members of the SIAP. Aside from coming up with tissue culture laboratories which will be set up in 14 locations, they will also engage in training for manpower development.

The seaweed industry is a big dollar earner. In 2010, the Philippines exported $155 million worth of seaweeds. Seaweeds are the second biggest fishery export next to tuna. The main product that is exported is carrageenan which is used in the food, pharmaceutical and industrial products.

Currently, the bulk of seaweed production is in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. In 2011, these two places produced 686,000 metric tons. The other area with considerable production is Region 4B, particularly Palawan, with a production of 483,000 metric tons in 2011.

In Batangas, there is a developing market for the fresh market. The varieties that are being consumed in salads are becoming increasingly in demand in the Manila market.

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