Sourced only by Cip D.C. Cabrera
Saltmakers in Alubijid in Misamis Oriental. (Photo courtesy of Sights of Cagayan de Oro City and Northern Mindanao/Sir Dieter Sokoll KR)
MANILA — Reacting to a statement by an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that the salt-making industry has been neglected by the government for more than a decade now, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) blasted back saying the said declaration as flatly untrue adding that it has allotted in the previous year more than P100 million to fund and prop up salt production in the country.
According to BFAR officer-in-charge Nestor Domenden, the agency, in realizing the need to enhance the production of salt, the BFAR — which is under the supervision of the agriculture department — has actually set in motion the P100-million Development of the Salt Industry Project (DSIP) since last year under the Special Budget Request (SBR) of the Congressional-Introduced Initiative Project.
Domenden was reacting to the claims of agriculture senior undersecretary Domingo Panganiban that the salt-making sector has been grossly neglected and has forced the government to import salt to make up for the huge shortfall in its supplies.
Still, BFAR has confirmed that 93 percent of salt being sold in the market comes from abroad, which Domenden admitted was “an unfortunate circumstance for a country with 36,000 kilometers of shoreline.”
Based on data from Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Incorporated (PCAF) president Danilo Fausto, the Philippines imports about 550,000 metric tons of salt from China and Australia and due to the latest shortage, the retail price of the prime commodity needed in many socioeconomic aspects has gone up from P10 to P15 per 250 grams.
Domenden explained that the allocated P100 million funding for salt production covered the Ilocos, Western Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula regions, which are all traditionally considered leading salt-making areas in the country.
“The project had been geared towards increasing salt production and to produce excellent quality of salt through enhancement and improvement of the different methods and practices on salt production, and product compliance to food safety standards,” he further clarified.
However, the acting BFAR chief added that “a number of factors have contributed to the decline in the production of salt and these include low-quality control and stunted product improvement for many years.
“Limited development has also been noted, including the lack of innovation and interventions, as well as low enterprise and investment opportunities that resulted in the decrease in the production of the said commodity,” he revealed even as it was noted that salt-makers have failed to adapt to the problems caused by climate change, stringent food safety standards and quality requirements and tariff reduction.
Aside from these, salt-makers have likewise failed to comply with mandatory iodization as required by the law under Republic Act 8172 or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN). (ai/mtvn)