ComVal takes off for pangasius development
by Jen Mendoza
Davao City (7 September) -- The Compostela Valley province has already adopted the development of pangasius industry as among its potential economic drivers.
Pangasius is a family of catfish, commonly known as "hito" in the Philippine dialect, is a very diverse group of bony fresh water fish, named for their prominent barbells which give the image of a cat-like whisker.
This variety of catfish can produce hundreds of thousands of eggs at a very minimal mortality rates that can supply even up to a million kilograms ready for bigger markets.
Among the major markets for pangasius are Middle East, Africa, South America, and some parts of Asia, namely China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
To date, Vietnam is considered as the top exporter of pangasius globally. It produces fresh and fillet for the United States, Russia, Europe, and China.
Pangasius catfish production, which is now a US$750 million business in Vietnam, has been one of the priority industries in Mindanao considering its ideal climatic/weather condition and the available land that may be devoted for ponds where the pangasius fingerlings will be grown into.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Compostela Valley Program Office manager Nelly L. Esperanza said the move of adopting the industry as among the province's priorities as initiated by the Provincial Government of Compostela Valley under the leadership of Governor Arturo T. Uy is aimed at maximizing its underutilized fisheries aquamarine resources which is estimated at 220 hectares.
The key stakeholders of the provincial pangasius industry agreed during the Pangasius Business Opportunities Seminar conducted recently in ComVal to initiate measures that will fully develop the local industry while eyeing the export market by initially supplying the direct exporters in Mindanao and other parts of the country. The seminar was sponsored by the Provincial Government through the Provincial Agriculturist Office (Pagro), in partnership with the DTI and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
"We also tapped the beneficiaries of the DTI-CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) who may initially take the first steps in developing the pangasius industry of the province. With the assistance coming from concerned government units and San Miguel Food, Incorporated, we are very optimistic that ComVal will really take off and reap economic gains from this project," Esperanza said.
DTI-12 assistant regional director and national anchor for pangasius development Dorecita Delima who was present to provide the market prospects for pangansius during the Business Opportunity Seminar said that there is a strong and increasing demand for aquaculture products, especially pangasius.
Based on records, the demand for pangasius will be reaching 50 percent of the total global fish demand by 2010.
"There's really a huge opportunity. In fact, the Philippines alone, is importing around 30 to 40 container vans (each van contains 600 metric tons) of pangasius fillet monthly. With this huge opportunity, Delima said, it is imperative that various measures must be implemented already. The commitment and support to the project by the Provincial Government of Compostela Valley and other key stakeholders in the province like BFAR as the lead agency that is planning to develop and package technologies for the breeding, culture, and promotion of pangasius as alternative freshwater aquaculture specie give pangasius culture a promising future in Compostela Valley," Esperanza ended.
The pangasius development is under the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) of DTI. (DTI) [top]