THE Philippines has been one of the major sources of mangrove crab or alimango and green mussel or tahong for export to other countries.

The country has also been hailed as the second top producer of alimango, and a major producer of tahong.

But the country, particularly these two aqua sectors, still has to continuously pursue development efforts to rise to the top.

Research and development efforts on these commodities towards achieving more fruitful farming options will help advance the country’s economy and sustain food security because mangrove crab has been considered as a prized commodity, and mussel has been known as a cheap source of protein.

To address these concerns, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) funded at least two projects – “Mangrove crab (Scylla serrata) production on Alabat Island in the province of Quezon using an aquasilviculture system,” and “Refinement of mussel transplantation techniques for developing mussel farming industry in Quezon.”

These two projects will be implemented by the Alabat and Tagkawayan campuses of the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU).

The projects are being led by Delia R. Babilonia of the SLSU-Alabat, and Dr. Victoria M. Noble of the SLSU-Tagkawayan, respectively.

Alabat Island, being surrounded by mangroves, makes it suitable for alimango farming.

The site in Tagkawayan, on the other hand, has waters bordered by the towns of San Narciso and Libmanan, both in Quezon.

This site is also facing away from the open waters of the Sibuyan Sea, which makes it ideal for mussel farming.

Both projects will pilot-test environment-friendly and sustainable farming approaches.

For alimango farming, a mangrove-friendly aquasilviculture system has been used as a management strategy.

It was learned that the strategy promotes the integration and harmonization of aquaculture with mangrove protection.

Under the process, the farms with mangrove areas are enclosed with nets, thus preventing the cutting of mangroves and protecting the environment at the same time.

For mussel farming, a long line culture approach, which was recently developed by the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) through the funding support of the DOST-PCAARRD, has been used.

This modified farming technique was adopted from New Zealand to suit Philippine setting.

It uses a 50-meter main line with one-meter mussel socks hanging for spat enclosure at 50-centimeter intervals.

The technique addresses the sedimentation problem brought about by the use of the traditional “stake” method.

The involved communities in the towns of Alabat and Tagkawayan welcomed these projects, while the municipal mayors actively supported their trials.

It is expected that the introduction of these two new commodities will help in improving the economy of both municipalities.

Once pilot testing, implementation, and adoption of aquasilviculture and long-line culture methods in the province of Quezon have beencompleted, a year-round supply of alimango and tahong will be available, and this may open new doors for the export market.

This will also create employment and other opportunities for the residents of Alabat and Tagkawayan. (jaypeeyap@ymail.com/PN)

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