THE government has allotted another P100 million for a program that seeks to revive the Philippine salt industry.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said interventions under “Oplan Asin” will continue this year. The program now involves 7 regional fisheries offices (RFOs) of BFAR, from the previous 3.
The agency attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA) said RFOs in Regions 3, 4A, 4B and 7 have been included in the program.
“With Oplan Asin, we will prioritize intervention to our existing salt producers and revive the inactive ones by helping them comply with the market requirements,” BFAR Director Demosthenes Escoto said during the launch of the Development of Salt Industry Project in Dasol, Pangasinan.
BFAR and the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) started the implementation of “Oplan Asin” last year. It aims to increase local production of excellent quality salt through the enhancement of processes and improvement of practices on salt production, while balancing the requirement for food safety standards and industrial uses.
With a funding of P100 million in the first year of implementation, various production-related and research and development activities were implemented in select major salt-producing regions through the BFAR-RFOs 1, 6, and 9.
The agency said it has already provided fishery on-farm equipment and post-harvest facilities, upgraded storage units and warehouse facilities, training and capacity building workshops, and technology demonstrations among the participating regions.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food said, “salt production is very economical and sustainable if given the chance to grow.”
The Philippines used to produce salt in huge quantities until the 1990s. Citing a report published by Pacific Farms Inc., the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Region 4-B said provinces like Bulacan, Pangasinan, Occidental Mindoro and Cavite supplied almost 85 percent of the country’s salt requirement in 1990.
What doomed the local salt industry, the DOST said, is the seasonal pattern change due to climate change and producers’ reliance on age-old production methods. As challenges became insurmountable and made salt farming less attractive, large producers were forced to shut down their farms or convert their areas into other profitable ventures, such as fishponds, residential or commercial properties.
The Philippines, which has the fifth largest shoreline in the world, imports around 80 percent of its salt requirements from countries like Australia and China.
Image credits: BusinessMirror/Nonie Reyes