(L-R) Edgardo Payas of BFAR PFO; Mayor Cesar Tria, Jr. of Magsaysay, Occ. Mindoro; NFRDI Executive Director Dr. Lilian Garcia, TAMACO Chairperson Felix Bernales, and Mayor Atty. Rey Ladaga of San Jose, Occ. Mindoro during the MOA Signing held on Mar. 22, 2023 in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

To amplify the Philippines’ salt production, particularly in Occidental Mindoro, the DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Tamaraw Salt Producers Cooperative of Occidental Mindoro (TAMACO) for a research and development and extension (RDE) collaboration on March 22, 2003 in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. 

The RDE collaboration, involving P5 million-worth of project for the repair of salt crystallizing beds, has been provided to TAMACO to develop innovative interventions and technologies not just to increase salt production of Occidental Mindoro but more importantly to revitalize the entire salt industry. The provided intervention is projected to generate an additional 500 MT of salt annually.

Specifically, the agreement stipulates that all agencies involved should work together to strengthen technological, market, and institutional capabilities to catalyze innovations toward a productive, sustainable, competitive, and resilient Philippine salt industry. 

Also signing the agreement were the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 4B, and the local government units (LGUs) of San Jose and Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro, represented by Atty Rey Ladaga and Cesar Tria, Jr, respectively.

Pangalagaan at pagkasipagan po sana natin ang proyektong ito. Makipagtulungan po kayo sa amin para makakuha kami ng tamang datos. Kase po kapag pinagbuti natin ito tayong lahat din ang magbe-benefit. Ang resulta ng mga datos ay ibibigay po naming sa BFAR, which will lead to production efficiency of the entire salt industry,” said Dr. Lilian Garcia, NFRDI executive director, who was present during the MOA signing.

“In the end, kailangan ay malawak ang ating tingin. Tingnan po natin ang kalagayan ng industriya. Sa pamamagitan ng project na ito magkakaroon ng trabaho, more income, and of course food security. Food security is not just about producing food, it also entails the ability to access and buy food.

Pwede po naming kayong tulungan, ang LGU, BFAR, NFRDI para umunlad ang inyong buhay pero ang unang unang unang dapat na gumawa para umunlad kayo, ay kayo din. Nasa inyo ang malaking bola,” Garcia added.

In response, TAMACO Chairperson Felix Bernales was humbled and grateful for the assistance that their Cooperative received from the government. “The supplies and materials that were given to us will be purely put into good use as this will enable our members, salt workers, and salt producers, to move aggressively in pushing for a competitive price, which ultimately will revive the ailing salt industry in the province,” Bernales said.

After the MOA signing, the officials traveled to the salt farm of one of the TAMACO members in Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro for the ceremonial turnover of supplies and materials for salt production.

The agreement was signed based on reciprocity, which entails both the LGUs of San Jose and Magsaysay to also do their part in ensuring the success of this RDE collaboration. As stipulated in the agreement, the LGUs must ensure that TAMACO members are registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), an electronic database containing basic information on farmers and fisherfolk. It minimizes duplication and improves the suitability of government programs to beneficiaries for immediate service delivery to the countryside. ### (Rita dela Cruz)