Thursday, July 27, 2006

Canada To Put Up P700M Seaweed Processing Plant In Tawi-Tawi

BONGAO, TAWI-TAWI (Darwin Wee / 27 Jul) Canada is to put up a P700-million seaweed processing plant in this remote southern Filipino province to support the local seaweed industry.

Gov. Sadikul Sahali said the project, a joint effort between the Canadian government and Tawi-Tawi, will further boost the seaweed industry. Tawi-Tawi is one of the major exporters of seaweeds in the country.

He said the plant would be put up in the
island of Sitangkay, southwest of Tawi-Tawi, where the bulk of seaweeds come from.

"This is a dream come true to the province. Sitangkay, which produces about 35% of the total seaweed production of the
Philippines in the global market, is expected to further boost the industry with the new processing plant,” Sahali told the Zamboanga Journal.

The Canadian International Development Agency, he said, will fund the construction of the seaweed processing plant.

Ambassador Peter Sutherland, of Canada, visited Tawi-Tawi last month and was interested in funding the project after Sahali presented the Sitangkay Seaweed Industry Master Plan developed by the Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Inc.

Sahali said the processing plant will have the capabilities to process about 90% of the total production of seaweed in the province.

"Seaweeds farmers and producer in this province will no longer have
to ship their seaweed to buying stations as far as Zamboanga,
Cebu, Panay and Iloilo and even Malaysia," he said.

The project is expected to stabilize the price of the raw and dried seaweeds in the country.

"Currently, the price of seaweed is being dictated by the middlemen and the buying stations. They always based the price of seaweed on its production. If there's abundant harvest of seaweeds, the price will very cheap and this greatly affect the income of seaweed farmers," Sahali said.

The project will also include the upgrade of seaweed farming in Tawi-Tawi; the putting up of seaweed nurseries and post harvest facilities, and the purchase of power generators that will supply electricity to the processing plant.

Tawi-Tawi produced some 300,000 metric tons of raw, dried seaweed in 2005. However, this did not reflect the accurate volume productions of seaweed in the province as an estimated 40% of the seaweed production are being smuggled to neighboring countries, such as
Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tawi-Tawi has about 35,000 hectares planted to seaweed and an estimated 26,000 hectares are still untapped or available as potential site for expansion.

At present, the local seaweed industry has been the major source of livelihood in the province with more than 30,000 farmers directly involved in seaweed production.

Dried seaweed cost about P27 a kilo in Tawi-Tawi, but traders from Zamboanga City and Cebu buy them as high as P32 a kilo, depending on the moisture content.

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