Dr. Ulysses Montojo, chief of NFRDI’s Fisheries Postharvest Research and Development Division (FPHRDD), underscores the role of research and development (R&D) to boost the Philippine salt industry in a stakeholder’s dialogue in Dasol, Pangasinan.

Enhance technological development, market mapping, and product standardization to conform with food safety standards, provide applicable policy direction, and develop innovative interventions — these are the research and development (R&D) activities that are being undertaken to boost the salt industry in the country as emphasized in a dialogue with salt producers and industry stakeholders on March 9, 2023 in Dasol, Pangasinan.

“The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) conducted comprehensive industry profiling and quality assessment of locally produced salt, including artisanal salts in 2022,” said Dr. Ulysses Montojo, chief of NFRDI’s Fisheries Postharvest Research and Development Division (FPHRDD).

“This year NFRDI aims to determine the suitability of coastal areas belonging to Type I Climate for possible expansion of areas for salt production using solar evaporation method. The Institute will also conduct value chain analysis (VCA) to assess the market industry of locally produced and imported salts in the country, and recommend appropriate programs/interventions such as: (1) establishment of market linkages, (2) implementation of SRP, (3) establishment of storage and production facilities in strategic places, and (4) strengthening of government support services and ancillary industries for salt production, among others,” Montojo added.

The Development of Salt Industry Project (DSIP), dubbed as “DA-BFAR Oplan Asin” with the banner, “Pasiglahin, sariling ating asin” was officially launched on March 10, 2023. The DSIP seeks to address the declining local salt production by providing necessary research, production, postharvest, and policy-related interventions to salt industry stakeholders.

BFAR mentioned that although the initiative will cover salt-producing regions in the country, Dasol was chosen to formally launch the program because Pangasinan is one of the top salt-producing provinces in the country.

The program has an allotted P200 million budget to revive salt production in 23 provinces in the country. The P100 million has been allocated in 2022 while the other half will be for the 2023 funding. The budget covers R&D, provision of postharvest equipment and materials, storage facilities, and technology demonstrations.

Among the 23 provinces covered by the project are: Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Aurora, Bataan, Zambales, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga City, Isabela City, and Basilan.

According to the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc., the Philippines imports 93 percent (550,000 million metric tons) of its salt requirements mainly from China and Australia.

One of the issues tackled during the dialogue was the importance of forming cooperatives. Salt farmers will have a better chance of availing of services and programs from the government if they are organized into cooperatives.

Other attendees during the dialogue were Atty. Rhaegee Tamana of the office of Senator Villar; Atty. Philip Lina of the Senate’s Committee Secretary; Ricardo Arcangel Calimag of the Office of Senator Binay; Mayor Rizalde Bernal of Dasol, Pangasinan; BFAR Asst. Dir., Zaldy Perez; and BFAR 1 Director Segundina Gaerlan. ### (Rita dela Cruz)