Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro – Soon an association of women fishers will be able to produce their own high-quality processed tuna with the newly-renovated tuna processing plant, which was officially turned over by the Department of Agriculture-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-NFRDI) to the municipality of Sablayan on March 9, 2022.

Through the NFRDI’s technology business incubation program, funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and in collaboration with the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), the old fish processing plant of Sablayan was renovated and restructured to comply with the fish processing standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and BFAR.

Part of the program is to facilitate women fishers to organize themselves into a cooperative that will enable them to establish a legal business entity. It was through this initiative that the Samahang Mangigisdang Kababaihan (SAMAKA) Sablayan Producers’ Cooperative was capacitated and organized. Members of SAMAKA were trained on yellow tuna bottling process, food safety protocols, and business application process. 

“The government is working together and is committed to help you face the next challenges in establishing your business” said NFRDI Executive Director Lilian C. Garcia, during the turnover ceremony. 

Through this initiative, SAMAKA will be able to establish its first-ever bottled tuna business. This will also provide an opportunity for other fishers in the community to process their produce during peak season when the price of raw material is at its lowest. Sablayan, being a tuna highway, often experiences an overflowing supply of yellow fin tuna.

 “Nagpapasalamat po kami at nagtiwala at naniwala po kayo sa kakayahan naming mga kababaihan. Sa aming pagsisikap, may mga target buyer na din po kami sa iba’t ibang lugar na bumibili sa amin ng 125 bottles sa loob ng isang lingo, said Criselda R. Damiray, chairperson of the SAMAKA.

Before the bottled tuna technology was introduced, the wives of fishers make frozen lumpiang tuna sold locally as an additional income for their families. 
The municipality of Sablayan was likewise thankful for the assistance of DA. “Damang dama namin ang pagmamahal ng national government sa pagtulong na magkaroon kami ng tuna processing plant. Balang araw, makikita natin ang unti-unting pag-angat ng pamumuhay ng mga mangingisda ng Sablayan,” said Mayor Andres Dangeros. ### (NFRDI Press Release)