The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform conducted a Seaweed Consultation Meeting held in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu from November 6 to 10, 2023.

This collaborative effort involved both the Fisheries Production Division (FPD) and the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), with the aim of leading the ministry’s efforts to address the issues within the Seaweed industry and enhance its production security and advancement.

To gain insights into issues and potential solutions, the meeting was attended by 62 participants from Tawi-Tawi province and 64 from Sulu province, including Seaweed farmers, LGU traders, MAFAR Municipal Officers, and other MAFAR officials, demonstrating their support and enthusiasm.

Director General for Fisheries Services Pendatun Patarasa, MPA, together with the Director II of Fisheries Operation Services, Macmod D. Mamalangkap, Ph.D., led the meeting along with Provincial Directors Aidarus I. Nami, EdD, of Tawi-Tawi and Alfie U. Iribani, DPA, of Sulu to address the issues and concerns raised regarding seaweed production in the province.

Deputy Minister and Project Director of MAFAR-PRDP, Ammal D. Solaiman, JD, highlighted in her message that it is public knowledge that BARMM, specifically Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, holds the top position in Seaweed production.

According to her, it makes little sense to produce a large quantity of seaweed without maintaining its quality. Therefore, the region should shift its focus towards ensuring quality production while leading in terms of quantity.

“I hope everyone takes accountability for this matter to ensure the cultivation of healthy seaweed. Proper and responsible farming of marine resources, particularly seaweed, is essential,” she added.

This meeting ensures that the participants are equipped with the knowledge and skills in seaweed security and production, which will benefit them in the future, as it is the primary source of income in the Bangsamoro Island provinces.

Meanwhile, BDG Patarasa demonstrated support by emphasizing the significance of this meeting and highlighted in his message that seaweed production not only brings pride to the Bangsamoro region but also benefits the entire Philippines, as the Bangsamoro Region is the top producer of seaweed in the country.

 “As the Bangsamoro Director General of MAFAR, it is our mandate to assist in the entire region. It is our responsibility to ensure food security throughout the region. Our mission is to guarantee that we have globally competitive farmers and fisherfolk,” he said.

“This is an ongoing issue, so we must collaborate to develop unified solutions. I hope that, following this consultation meeting, we can formulate actionable steps to improve our Seaweed production,” he added.

Furthermore, the event benefited from the expertise of various resource persons from MCPI Corporation, including Manager Teresa Amaryllis Simbajon of the Research and Product Development Department and Director Eugenie Recohermoso of the Business Development Department.

These presentations covered a wide range of critical topics, playing a pivotal role in the Seaweed industry’s growth and sustainability, which included best practices in Seaweed Farming, the promotion of a Sustainable Seaweed Industry, and an insightful MCPI Presentation on Seaweed Processing Technology and Marketing.

To complement these insights and strategies, the consultation meeting in Tawi-Tawi also featured the expertise of prominent professors from MSU Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography, Richard L. Muallil, Ph.D., the Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation for Development and Extension, and Sitti Zayda B. Halun, Ph.D., the Director of the Seaweed Research Center.

During the consultation meeting in Sulu,

resource persons from BFAR Region IX, the Regional Director, Al-Zath K. Kunting, and  Muhaimin Maharail, Aquaculturist II of Regional Seaweed Coordinator, delivered a presentation outlining BFAR initiatives focused on improving the Philippine Seaweed Industry, which contributes insights into strategic measures and advancements to elevate the industry.

The meeting featured a presentation highlighting MAFAR-BARMM’s crucial Programs and Projects focused on Seaweed and MOST-BARMM’s Product Standardization.

The Local Government Unit of the provinces also graced the meeting, urging the community to collaborate for the betterment and progress of the seaweed industry in their province.

In addition, Another consultation meeting will be scheduled for the upcoming year to maintain an ongoing discussion on issues and improvements.