November 28, 2021
The Philippines should boost the production of export winner “agar agar” seaweed to create jobs and alternative rural livelihood while generating export reaching to $200 million yearly from Philippines’ fisheries-rich natural resource.
Presidential Aspirant Francisco “Isko” Domagoso said during Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc’s (PCAFI) “Agri 2022” that agar agar’s production should be raised considering Philippines’ rich coastal areas.
“At a certain height in coastal areas, you can already plant agar agar. And agar agar is a very good way of alternative livelihood for our fisherfolks,” said Domagoso.
Dr. Emil Q. Javier, national scientist and Coalition for Agriculture Modernization of the Philippines (CAMP), affirmed that the country’s experts are ready with the technology in seaweeds. These experts are with the Marine Science Institute, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, and University of the Philippines-Visayas.
With seaweed as one export product that Philippines earns from at around $200 million yearly, the country should further enhance its fisheries position by asserting its fishing right to the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Our ambition should be to be a truly maritime nation. Asserting our right at the West Philippine Sea should be done to be a truly maritime nation,” said Javier who is also PCAFI officer. “We’re very rich in fisheries resources, but our fishermen are among the poorest.”
The Philippines should indeed stand in asserting its WPS fishing right, whatever the size of its armed force is, being a sovereign nation.
“We must co exist as a country. We will insist on what we have and what we own. Yes there are countries that are superpower trying to intimidate us. But when we stand our ground, we are respected by (bigger) countries because we have our own disposition. I made it clear to our fisherfolks that we will fish in the West Philippine Sea –undeterred unharmed and unbullied,” said Domagoso.
It should be Philippines’ policy to impose penalties on foreigners who violate Philippine’s territorial rights.
“Once you enter into our geography, I don’t have to make war with you, when it’s illegal (one should be penalized). Why do we imprison our fellow Filipinos when they do something illegal, but when it comes to foreigners, we just watch them,” Domagoso said. “We will guarantee that our navy, whether small or big, our coast guard, whether small or big, whatever capacity we have as a nation we will go there with our fishers because it’s ours.”
In the first place, Philippines enters into international treaties. And its defense should also be its allies’ defense.
“I don’t think the other side will push the button. Nobody can afford it because we are a sovereign nation with allies. We’ve been signing agreements, treaties. It shouldn’t always be one way road. This is the time they should come (to our defense) because why will I sign treaties with you? Where were you when we need you most?”
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said that for Philippines to further specialize on fisheries since its territorial waters is bigger than the land, a Department of Fisheries should be created.
Domagoso assured “we will separate our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from DA (Department of Agriculture). You can’t be good on both land and water. There will be enough attention in land based (function) for food security (as well as in sea-based).”
PCAFI has been orienting presidential candidates on the state of Philippine agriculture and has filed the following recommendations:
- Allocation of at least 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) budget for agriculture which is just “fair” considering its GDP contribution of 10%. At present, the sector just gets 1.5% budget. Livestock and poultry contributes 27.7% to agriculture while it only gets 5.6% of the budget. Corn contributes 6.4%, but it only gets 1.7% of DA budget.
- Tariff collections should be used to develop the corresponding sector—Corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry tariff should be used to develop corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry sectors.
- The Safeguard Measures Act, Anti Dumping Act, among others, should protect local farmers from unfair competition from imports.
- National Irrigation Administration should be administered by DA for proper irrigation coordination.
- The Bureau of Agriculture Cooperatives should be created under DA
- Local government Units should allocate funds for agriculture extension as part of the proposed Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to ensure farmers get direct assistance on technology.
- Convergence of DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology to promote food and beverage manufacturing
- Establishment of agro-industrial hubs and corridors
- Passage of Land Use Bill to preserve agricultural lands
- Diversification of agriculture production to invest more in horticultural and industrial crops, poultry, livestock, fisheries
- Developing biotechnology, food science, automation, digitalization to enhance productivity and competitiveness
- Regreening, watershed management, and agro-forestry implementation. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)