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DA: Cold facilities needed for PH to be top fish player

THE Philippines needs more ice plants and cold storage facilities to realize its potential as a major supplier of fish, almost half of which the country loses annually, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.

During the First Philippine Agriculture Trade and Investment Forum in a hotel in Manila, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the need for these facilities stemmed from the fact that 40 percent of the fish caught was already spoiled before it reached sellers.

“The Philippine could be a major fish-producing country, but…we are losing 40 percent of our harvest because…we simply lack cold storage facilities…ice plants, and other post-harvest facilities to bring the fish to the market,” he added.

His department had proposed a P123.7-billion budget—more than twice its P60.6 billion budget this year—for 2019. It plans to use this budget to prioritize fisheries programs.

The DA used 94.6 percent of its P45.9-billion budget for 2017.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the country’s fish production decreased by 3.03 percent to about 1 million metric tons (MMT) in the first quarter of 2018.

Based on the PSA’s latest report on Philippine agriculture, the fisheries subsector declined by 4.61 percent, contributing only 13.36 percent to total agricultural output.

Last year, fisheries’ production fell by 1.04 percent from the 2016 figure, which Piñol blamed on “the absence of ice-making and cold storage facilities, including transport facilities.”

To address the lack, the DA has committed to build more of them. It is also looking to extend its loan program to the aquaculture and mariculture sectors.

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