THE National Academy of Science and Technology (Nast) said that by strengthening the fishery and aquaculture resources in Mindanao, problems related to poverty and hunger can be fully addressed.

The Regional Scientific Meeting held at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Monday, March 13, aimed to push through with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) deeming aquaculture as the main driver to alleviate poverty and hunger.

“When we say aquaculture, it is not only limited to fishery and food production. It also deals with transportation, energy and minerals. Creating programs that would strengthen these would be very beneficial to us,” said Fabian Dayrit, Nast acting president.

More than 200 stakeholders from different organizations gathered to discuss the status of the country and its progress in achieving the SDGs.

“The Philippines has more water than land yet we do not really utilize such resources because we are more focused on land,” said Eufemio Rasco, Nast chair for Agricultural Sciences Division.

He said food from water is cheaper, more nutritious and potentially more abundant than those from land. But despite the abundance in marine life, the aquaculture in the Philippines is slowly diminishing.

“The fact that we have to exert more and more effort to get one kilo of fish is an indication that our resources are diminishing. We only have two agencies that would cater to the concerns related to fishery and aquaculture – the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. I say they are not enough. Putting up another branch that would deal with the current problems would be helpful and beneficial,” Rasco said.

The Department of Science and Technology in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) regional director Myra Alih, for her part, suggested that staging Regional Scientific Meetings as such, would help bring out problems which can be given immediate solutions.

“By putting these problems on a local scale, I guess we could be able to solve it more efficiently. In our island-region, we are looking at blue economy as a tool to alleviate poverty. We should look into the proper utilization of the waters in Mindanao, how we maximize and sustain our resources for food security,” she said.

Dayrit added that among the challenges Mindanao is facing include energy, water, and human resources.

The Regional Scientific Meeting consists of three legs of which the first was held in Davao City. The second in Cebu on April and the last will be in Baguio on May 2017.