BFAR cultures alternative fish species, as price of "tilapia" feeds continue to soar
by Lito Dar
Baguio City (29 August) -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-CAR) is now propagating other fish species, which can serve as alternative to "tilapia", as the price of tilapia commercial feeds continue to soar.
According Sr. Aqua-culturist Pino Wakit, a 250kg of "tilapia" feeds already cost more than P500, which affects the market price of "tilapia" and causes alarm to fish farmers in the region.
Being propagated by BFAR is the "pangasius" or the aquarium type fish "hammer head shark", which is commercial in Vietnam and Cambodia and is cheaper to feed. Wakit also mentioned that they are also looking into "giant gurami", as another alternative species, an herbivorous fish and like "tilapia" it can be sold after four to five months. Other possible alternative fish which farmers can propagate are the "silver carp" and "bighead carp".
In the highlands of Bauko and Sabangan, Mountain Province, BFAR already started giving tilapia fingerlings, to rice farmers who have only one cropping of rice a year, for them to have additional production, income and fresh fish for their families.
He explained that they instructed the farmers to enlarge their rice paddies or "pilapil", for the fingerlings, so as to maximize the production in the area. This will even increase the rice yields of the farmlands, as "tilapia waste" will also serve as fertilizer.
Wakit also proposed to tilapia farmers to go into "daing" production, if their harvests are smaller in size or about three fingers. He added that the Regional Fisheries Training Center (RFTC) in Apayao is also conducting post-harvest trainings in Cordillera including trainings in fish cages, "season long" tilapia farming and stacking density.
Wakit though admitted that fish production in the region is not yet sufficient, as most of the supply of fish still comes from the lowlands. Relative to this, BFAR, upon the directive and as part of the hunger mitigation program of the national government, has the "bagsakan program" in the region with Kalinga, Mountain Province and Abra as the priority provinces.
He also explained that the only limiting factor, for fish production in the region, is the suppliers of breeders. In connection to this, BFAR has submitted a proposal for the importation of "breeders" from China, including a request for the importation of "grass carps."
Lastly, Wakit encourages the Cordillerans to go into backyard farming or fishponds, as it will not only provide additional income, it will also provide "fresh fish" for the family. He informed that more people are now going/venturing into fish farming in the region. (PIA) [top]