Officials and representatives from DA-NFRDI, DA-BFAR MIMAROPA, RSU, and nd local government unit of Sta. Maria, Romblon during the signing of the collaborative research agreement on May 16, 2023.

To determine the market potential and improve the quality of Romblon’s existing smoked fish product, the Department of Agriculture-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (DA-NFRDI) signed a collaborative research initiative with Romblon State University (RSU), DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) MIMAROPA, and local government unit of Sta. Maria, Romblon on May 16, 2023.

Funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project, “Market Assessment and Refinement of Smoked Fish in Romblon” is geared towards enterprise promotion and provision of additional livelihood opportunities to fisherfolk through micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Signing the agreement were NFRDI Director Dr. Lilian Garcia; BFAR MIMAROPA Director Emmanuel Asis, represented by BFAR MIMAROPA Fisheries Production and Support Services Division Chief Roberto Abrera; RSU President Dr. Merian Catajay-Mani, represented by Vice President Dr. Emelyn Montoya; and Sta. Maria, Romblon Mayor Lorilie Manito-Fabon.

According to Dr. Garcia, smoking is a traditional and common fish preservation technique in the Philippines, giving the product its distinctive flavor, color, and aroma. The increasing demand for ready-to-eat packaged seafood products will contribute to the growth of the smoked fish market. “In the Philippines, smoking is one of the consumed processed fish, averaging 1.40 g/day per capita,” she cited.

The latest reports showed that Romblon produced 6,644 to 8,599 MT of fish from 2018 to 2020. However, most of the catch is sent to Lucena and Batangas because there is no processing facility on the island. Locals sell fish products they make in their backyards or buy from Lucena. This collaborative initiative on postharvest will address such concerns, generating income for Romblon fisherfolk.

Also present in the activity were NFRDI-Fisheries Postharvest Research and Development Division Chief Dr. Ulysses Montojo; Director of RSU-Sta Maria Campus Dr. Joemar Manzo; Director of RSU Extension and Technical Advisory Services Dr. Orfelina Manzo; Provincial Fishery Officer of Romblon Sheryl Montes; NFRDI-Freshwater Fisheries Research and Development Center Chief Dr. Ma. Theresa Mutia; and other representatives from NFRDI, RSU, and LGU-Sta. Maria. ### (Rita dela Cruz)