Abalone: An opportunity for sustainable livelihood for fishermen

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – A team of scientists and researchers from the Western Philippines University (WPU) in Palawan province received a P4.3 million financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Aid to help increase the supply of abalone.

Lota Alcantara-Creencia,  who heads the research and development team,  said increasing abalone production in coastal communities would provide fishermen with a source of additional income.

As a supplemental source of livelihood, abalone, which can be found in many coastal areas,  is a high value commodity.

“We are really looking forward to further increasing the production of abalone.  So far, our research is running smoothly. We are getting good data,” Creencia told The STAR. 

Abalone, an edible sea snail or marine gastropod mollusc,  commands extraordinarily high prices  in  Chinese restaurants.  Its unique flesh and taste has made it a hot commodity, particularly in Asia.

Creencia said fishermen who catch abalone in Puerto Princesa in Palawan noted a decrease in quantity of abalone in their marine areas.

According to Creencia, fisherfolks have set up a hatchery  near  WPU for their research program.

This early, Creencia said the team has  recognized the need to farm the algae and seaweed, the natural food of abalones, to help them grow and thrive.

The WPU R&D on abalone was one of 21 projects pursued by faculty professors and their students that were showcased by the USAID in a “national innovation roadshow” exhibit.

This forms part of the five-year Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program that aims to strengthen applied research activity in Philippine universities and industries.

STRIDE is a USAID/Philippines project under the Partnership for Growth (PFG), a White House initiative. The PFG represents a partnership between the Philippines and the US  to promote broad-based and inclusive growth.

STRIDE focuses on disciplines that contribute to high-growth sectors such as electronics, chemical industries, alternative energy translational medicine, agri-business, ICT and mobile computing, with cross-cutting themes of manufacturing and new product development.

“This is actually our largest education project and one of the largest projects of USAID in the world,”  USAID Philippines mission director Susan Brems  said in a  forum held recently.

As of the end of February this year, the program has  already  awarded a total of P144.8 million in research grants to 34 universities across the country.

Apart from financial grants for R&D activities, the program has also awarded 31 scholarships to Filipinos to study in US universities.

Other opportunities offered by STRIDE include advanced training in research, curriculum development for Professional Science Master’s degree, faculty externships, and innovation workshops.

Brems said the human capital development program focuses on the need to improve higher education in the Philippines to bring the country at par with top universities around the world.                       


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