By JM de la Cruz
A PHILIPPINE government committee commended developments in aquaculture research that lowered the cost of aqua feeds for milkfish and tilapia by 30 percent.
In a recent meeting, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), an international research institution with its Aquaculture Department (AQD) based in Tigbauan, Iloilo, reported on the progress of its projects to the Philippine government.
One of the most commended projects for 2019 is the development of the low-cost feeds which were successfully verified through field-testing in cages and ponds in various locations across the country.
“We have successfully reduced the cost of feeds by 30 percent compared to the most cost-efficient commercial feeds available in the market,” said Dr. Roger Edward Mamauag, scientist and head of the Technology Verification and Extension Division.
The low-cost feeds by AQD also showed higher growth and weight performance compared to commercial feeds.
Retired commodore Eduardo Gongona, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and chair of the Philippine Technical and Administrative Committee (PTAC), expressed his appreciation for this development and requested for AQD to move forward with the mass production of the formula.
“We [BFAR] can assist in looking into more demo-farms to test the feeds for faster confidence building on the formula as well as to ensure its quality,” said Gongona.
The committee also suggested for AQD, in partnership with BFAR, to conduct acceptability studies among aquaculture operators and fish farmers on the newly-formulated, low-cost feeds.
“By lessening the cost of aquaculture production, we can claim that the next ten years is going to be the game for aquaculture,” added Gongona.
AQD also presented the progress of 49 studies under its departmental and regional programs as well as special projects in collaboration with the Philippine government.
“We are happy to continue supporting AQD to have more resources for its programs and projects for the next years,” said retired commodore Eduardo Gongona, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) at the presentation of AQD’s 2019 achievements during the 28th PTAC Meeting last Oct. 9 in Pasay City.
The PTAC is a committee tasked to coordinate activities between AQD and the Philippine government as host country and is comprised of representatives from relevant government agencies.
Support for scientists
On the other hand, Prof. Encarnacion Emilia Yap, dean of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Fisheries of the University of the Philippines Visayas, expressed that aside from budget for research and extension, AQD scientists should be compensated well.
“Scientists are the lifeblood of AQD and with better salary and benefit packages, they could be even more productive than they already are,” she said.
This was supported by Gongona as he believed that scientists in the Philippines should be supported and given incentives.
“We are in the process of reviewing the salary scale of our scientists, researchers and support staff. In view of the limited plantilla items for senior researchers in the department, we plan to invite visiting scientists from universities or other research institutions to conduct research in priority areas of the department and the government,” said Baliao.
Challenge towards more progress
Gongona also challenged AQD to develop programs and projects that could make the country progressive.
“Come up with research, technologies or even policy recommendations and you can expect the support of the government,” he said.
Ms. Marnelie Subong of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research suggested the continuation of refining the culture and feeding technologies by expanding and updating the socioeconomic analysis of each technology and to include it in the training courses. She also requested for AQD to develop more modern technologies in fish diagnostics to make disease detection more convenient to fish farmers./PN