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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Food security task force forms sub task force on fish-based protein supply

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THE Interagency Task Force on Food Security (IATF-FS) has created a sub task force group that would focus on the improvement of domestic fisheries and aquaculture sectors to boost the country’s animal protein supply.

In a virtual press briefing on Monday, Agriculture Undersecretary for Agri-Industrialization and for Fisheries Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero disclosed that the IATF-FS recently created a sub task force group on fisheries and aquaculture.

The new sub task force group, which Natividad-Caballero would lead, will focus on addressing challenges and problems in the fisheries and aquaculture sector in order to boost investment, productivity and supply.

“The creation of the sub task force group is in cognizance of the limitless opportunities that we can do and harness [from the sector],” Natividad-Caballero said in a briefing organized by advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan.

“Our goal is to address certain issues that hamper the growth of the sector. The sub task force group will look at constraints and challenges that can be addressed through partnerships and discussions among government offices and with the private sector,” she added.

On top of the new sub task force group’s agenda are the review of the mariculture highway and study of non-traditional areas for aquaculture to encourage private sector investment that would lead to higher fish supply and generate domestic employment, Natividad-Caballero said.

“We will look at areas that are not traditionally used as aquaculture sites, which can be used for fish farming activities. Our membership includes the National Irrigation Administration, environment agencies particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” she added.

Natividad-Caballero said they have already met with the DENR to carefully scrutinize areas where aquaculture sites can be put up in consideration of marine protected areas.

“We will address the policy issues and come up with a strategic mechanism to help the sector grow and expand,” she said.

The goal, according to Natividad-Caballero, is to grow the sector’s output by 2 percent to 3 percent with new investments in aquaculture.

She said the sub task force group will address also “the constraint of taxes that is imposed in aquaculture in accordance to existing laws.”

They are now studying the option of allowing aquaculture and fish farming in dams since 10 percent of the country’s dams are suitable for such agricultural activity, she added.

“Initial discussions are being done. Memoranda of agreement are being finalized. We just have to define the protocols and terms of reference, so [that] when the private sector or whoever goes into aquaculture farming in this non-traditional areas, [they] would have reduced risks in terms of predictability,” she said.

Tugon Kabuhayan dubbed the creation of the sub task force group a step in the right direction in “boosting aquaculture production by streamlining processes necessary to identify potential sites and private sector investments.”

The group added, “We appreciate IATF’s initiative to ensure food security during the pandemic and beyond. Industry stakeholders are ready to work with STG to create a policy framework for sustainable growth of the aqua and fisheries sector.”

“The Philippine aquaculture industry is efficient, strong, and competitive. It doesn’t require state subsidies to survive. All it needs is a policy environment conducive for sustainable growth,” it added.

Last month, Tugon Kabuhayan urged the government to open investments in dams, rivers and lakes for aquaculture as a means to boost food security and provide alternative protein sources amid rising pork and chicken prices.

Image credits: Roy Domingo
Read full article on BusinessMirror

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