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Stakeholders seek creation of ARMM Seaweeds council

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Stakeholders enthusiastically concluded the first Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Seaweeds Congress Monday last week, with a resounding call for the creation of ARMM Seaweeds Council to steer the development of the industry in the region.

ARMM Information Chief Ali Macabalang revealed that through resolution, stakeholders asked the ARMM’s Regional Economic Development Planning Board (REDPB) through the Regional Economic Development Committee (REDC) member-agencies to assist them in realizing the creation of the council.

Attended by stakeholders and representatives of government agencies, the one-day 1st ARMM Seaweeds Congress was conducted in Zamboanga City to craft strategies on addressing reported decrease in seaweed supplies from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and partly from Maguindanao in view of reports that Indonesia would be linking up with seaweeds producers from the region for supplies.

ARMM Exec. Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvadior Salacup and Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat led governments in gracing the occasion, even as they all underscored the importance of giving impetus to seaweeds farming and productions.

"We have no doubt that seaweed production gives one ray of hope to farmers in this part of the country. With aquaculture resources of immense size, the ARMM offers prospects for more cultivation, expansion and processing of seaweeds," Sinarimbo said.

He said that enhancing the industry would spur tremendously the ARMM economy, and help bring about peace and stability in the region.

For his part, Mayor Lobregat welcomed the conduct of the first ARMM Seaweed Congress in Zamboanga City, saying that his city benefits much from the proceeds of the industry.

Salacup, on the other hand, said the seaweed production is one of the major industries in the country where ARMM is principal player.

He said 38% of the national total production of seaweeds (686,937.45 out of 1.799 million) is coming from ARMM where 20,017 hectares more of areas can be tapped for farming to beef up the existing 32,023 hectares of seaweed farms.

"Filling it up will match our 20% shortfall in raw dried seaweeds in this country," Salacup said, adding that such industry “provides livelihood to 42,664 families who are directly involved in production and hundreds more involved in trade. It also has potential value-adding.

The congress participants said the proposed council would serve as the policy making body to set direction to further boost ARMM's seaweeds industry that provides livelihood to thousands of families living in the coastal areas who are directly involved in the production, trading and export of seaweeds.

They asked the local government units (LGUs) in the region to enact provincial and municipal ordinances anent the seaweed industry development.

They urged the national government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) to put up a seaweeds research and development center and other infrastructures to assist them since the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-ARMM (BFAR-ARMM) is incapacitated in technical, marketing, production and processing of quality product.

BFAR-ARMM assistant director Hadja Janice Musali revealed that her office lacks the personnel to assist the seaweeds farmers, citing one technician handles three to four municipalities.

Despite the shortage of personnel, Musali said they are exerting efforts as much as possible to cover all areas since 70 percent of the seaweeds production of Mindanao comes from ARMM.

Records from BFAR-ARMM showed that the region produced a total of 686,397.45 metric tons (MT) of seaweeds in 2010, posting an increase by 3,312.62 MT compared to the 683,084.83-MT production volume in 2009. (BPI-ARMM/RVC-PIA9 BaSulTa)




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