Seaweed firm invests P5M for Bohol farms
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Freeman) - November 3, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Shemberg Marketing Corporation has bolstered its support to carrageenan farmers in Bohol as demand for seaweed continues to increase in the world market. 

Shemberg Marketing president and chief executive officer Pierre Dakay said that the company has initially invested P5 million to help the farmers in Bohol revive their seaweed farms after the province experienced the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last year.

"Our potential is very big. We should increase our production. We have more technology now," said Dakay adding that the P5 million funds given to Bohol farmers is sourced through the Benson Dakay Foundation, which is created to promote seaweed farming in the Philippines, so seaweed exporters and manufacturers will no longer depend on importation from other countries like Indonesia.

Dakay, who is also the internal vice president for Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines, said the price now of spinosum seaweed which grows largely in the Philippines, has increased three to four times from P15 per kilo (raw) to about P45 per kilo.

Eucheuma, locally known as guso, is a group of red seaweeds/seaplants representing the Tribe Eucheumatoideae used in the production of carrageenan, an important product used in cosmetics, food processing, and industrial uses, as well as a food source for those living in Indonesia and the Philippines.

 According to Dakay, instead of maintaining its plant in Indonesia, the company decided to operate all its manufacturing operations in the Philippines, to help more people here, including the farmers and their families.

Shemberg Marketing Corporation operates four seaweed plants, three of which are in Cebu and one is in Zamboanga.

The Carmen plant relocation will process the high-end refined Iota carrageenan that are mostly used in toothpaste processing, and skin and teeth whitening ingredients.

The Zamboanga plant takes care of the cotonii carageenan production, which is usually used as food additive, and other mainstream application.

Latest figure showed that the Philippines only produce an estimate of 180 thousand metric tons raw seaweed, way beyond the industry’s needs.

The seaweed industry in the Philippines, which primarily provides the food-grade specie of seaweed grown in the Philippine shores, is providing livelihood to over 100 thousand families across the country.

In Central Visayas, the seaweed production dropped an average of 1.1 percent since mid- 2000 due to frequent rain and scarcity of planting materials.

In 2011, the Philippine government, through the Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources announced to increase its budget for the seaweed farming sector to take advantage of the increasing demand for raw and refined seaweed resources around the world.

The budget was up to P265 million to increase the production of seaweed-producing islands across the country. — Ehda M. Dagooc (FREEMAN)

AQUATIC RESOURCES BENSON DAKAY FOUNDATION BOHOL BUREAU OF FISHERIES DAKAY EHDA M IN CENTRAL VISAYAS INDONESIA AND THE PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINES SEAWEED SHEMBERG MARKETING CORPORATION
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