DA eyes urban aquaculture

Published February 21, 2021, 5:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking into urban aquaculture as alternative livelihood for backyard hog raisers who are badly affected by the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).

On Friday, February 19, top officials and officers of the DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched the urban aquaculture project in Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City.

The project, according to DA, should introduce urban aquaculture as an alternative livelihood to ASF-affected hog growers. Hundreds of backyard pigs in Quezon City already died and were culled due to ASF since the fatal animal disease made it into Philippine borders in 2019.

Nationwide, ASF already resulted in the death and culling of more than 500,000 hogs. It also prompted a lot of small producers to abandon hog raising for now.

Under the urban aquaculture project, BFAR, in partnership with the local government of Quezon City, is set to distribute around 10,000 pieces of hito and 9,000 pieces of tilapia fingerlings to 60 identified ASF-affected hog raisers Barangay Bagong Silangan and Payatas, whose deserted pigpens have already been converted into fish tanks suitable for fish culture.

The fish tanks will be stocked with fingerlings and will be equipped with recirculating aquaculture system to filter out waste and provide more dissolved oxygen in the water in order to maintain the water’s good quality essential to the health and growth of the fish.  

The assistance package will also come with 60 units of the filtration system and commercial feeds that would last a cycle of feeding of three to four months.

For one cycle, the urban aquaculture project is estimated to produce 1.58 metric tons of hito and 1.29 metric tons of tilapia.

BFAR hopes to partner with more city governments to establish urban aquaculture sites.

DA Undersecretary for Agri-Industrialization and for Fisheries Cheryl Natividad-Caballero said the DA is committed to assist urban communities that would like to engage in productivity-enhancing projects that will address food supply available to the consuming public and provide livelihood opportunities to urban Aqua-farmers.