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DA to boost bangus production

MANILA, Philippines — The government needs to increase its budget to build more hatcheries nationwide to sustain the country’s demand for milkfish, the Department of Agriculture said.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said at least P30 million is needed to put up more than 30 hatcheries all over the country to increase local production.

Over the last two decades, the Philippines has become heavily dependent on imports of fry from Indonesia and Taiwan.

“We need at least 1.5 billion fry to just sustain the industry and more than two billion for it to grow. With the existing three hatcheries, we are barely producing 30 million fry a year which means that almost all our fry are being imported,” BFAR-National Inland Fisheries Technology Center chief Westly Rosario told reporters.

“But, the problem is imported fry has a survival rate of just 20 percent while locally-bred produce in our hatcheries is 80 percent,” he said.

The P30 million budget would be used for satellite hatcheries and the impact of the program can already be seen three years after.

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However, this plan is unlikely to materialize anytime soon as the DA’s proposed budget for 2018 got a huge slash.

“Budget for technical centers has been lower. For the whole NIFTC, we will just be getting about P33 million and there are a lot of species. For milkfish alone, less than P3 million has been allocated,” Rosario said.

Studies showed that 20 years from now, the local demand for food would not come from crops, livestock and poultry, but from aquaculture.

“We have a huge coastal area compared to our land area therefore, that’s where we should focus. We need to support our aquaculture programs,” Rosario said.

Milkfish production managed to bounce back and record a nine percent increase to 110,000 metric tons in the second quarter, 99 percent of which comprised aquaculture.

The increase was attributed to improved stocking density from brackish water fishponds in Pampanga due to availability of quality milkfish fry, as well as bigger sizes of milkfish harvested.

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