Ilocos Region has received a much-needed P100-million fund from the government to boost the country’s mission to revive its salt industry.
Nestor Domenden, executive director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 1, announced that the multi-million intended for the region was aimed at attaining salt-sufficiency of the Philippines. Ilocos region is one of the top salt producers in the country.
“Salt is a prime commodity. Without it, we will have no bagoong, no patis. If the local industry dies, we will have to import again, like what we are doing with bangus fry which we import a big bulk of our need,” Domenden said.
“A problem would arise if the countries from where we import change their policy and won’t sell salt to us anymore. What will we do then?” he added.
The director said the agency was tasked to craft a plan for the industry in the region. It will include programs and projects that must benefit both the farmers and the salt producers.
The initial projects are focused on the small scale salt production, helping the producers to have better storage, hygienic handling, marketing, and even laboratory tests, according to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region 1 (BFAR)Officer-in-Charge Rosario Segundina Gaerlan.
Gaerlan said that the Pangasinan State University (PSU) has proposed to establish the Advance Salt Innovation Center (ASIN Center) for research.
“I asked the PSU to submit the proposal which we will include in the road map for salt,” she said, adding that it was ironic that the country has to import salt when it has a long coastline where salt can be produced.
According to Gerald Khonghun of the Pacific Farms Incorporated, the Philippines is actually importing 91 to 93 percent of the country’s salt requirements. “But in fact, 40-50 years ago, the country was self-sufficient in salt. The draft roadmap will be our starting point with which the different department and congress will rally around in order for our country to be self-sufficient of asin.”