Seaweed farming pushed

REVIVE seaweed farming in Davao Region as huge demand remains, an official said.

Virgilio Sangutan, the chair of the United Investors Organizations in the Philippines, (UIOP) said on Monday's Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao -Annex that to revitalize the seaweed industry here a technology capable of sustaining seedlings' growth is needed.

He said one of the reasons the seaweed farming in the country failed during earlier attempts is the lack of a central and supervising technology that will support the cultivation and progress of the industry.

Each farmer, Sangutan said, had their own ways of growing the seaweeds leaving two major problems that came with seaweed growing unaddressed: contaminated location and strong sea current.

"Before planting, we need to check the location and make sure that it will not be affected by different forms of contamination from the drainage canals, factories, hospitals, restaurants. We know the drainage of these establishments flow towards the sea," Sangutan said.

He added the other factor that damages the seaweed farming is very strong sea current especially during the southeast monsoon or the Amihan and northeast monsoon or Habagat.

"We have developed a technology that will protect the seaweeds from strong currents. This is developed by the local investors group in Davao," he said.

Shemberg Group of Companies, a Cebu-based manufacturer had expressed their intent through a meeting with Sangutan saying that they would need 1,000 metric tons (MT) of seaweeds every month. Shemberg Group of Companies is one of the leading manufacturers of refined carrageenan, a food additive extracted from red edible seaweeds.

They have committed to buy a kilo of dry seaweeds with 40 percent moisture content for P72 per kilo. According to Sangutan, 100 grams seedlings of seaweeds, when planted and nourished properly, can grow to as much as 10 kilos in 70 days. In a single hectare, about 10,000 seaweed seedlings can be planted.

Currently, Sangutan's group is looking into a half-hectare land in Samal, specifically near Pearl Farm, to convert into a seaweed farm. They target to start planting by April of this year. They have partnered with a private Dabawenyo financier but have yet to disclose how much investment they are putting in the project as it is currently on the price comparison and planning stages. They target that the half-hectare be converted into 20 hectares in the future.

Sangutan said he hopes that this industry will grow and develop which in only two years' time will help improve the livelihood of the fisherfolks in Samal.
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