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|A fisher harvests lato (native seaweed) at Pilar Bay, Sorsogon, site of the CPAR Seaweeds Showcase Project.|
Seaweed farming doesn’t only provide livelihood for the local people but also increases its production making Brgy. Pilar, Sorsogon the leading source of seaweeds in the Bicol region,” revealed Mr. Jose Razel Monzales, chairperson of the Pilar Seaweeds Farmers and Traders Association (PSFTA) to a group from the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) who went to monitor and evaluate its Community-based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) project on seaweeds on 16 January 2006.
The group from BAR headed by Dr. Catalino dela Cruz of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) with Mr. Tito Arevalo of the Regional Coordination Division (RCD), and Ms. Digna Sandoval of the Technology Commercialization Unit (TCU) met with officials from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office V (BFAR-V), the Sorsogon State College (SSC), and the Pilar Local Government Unit (LGU) who were all co-implementers of the CPAR project. The group visited Pilar Bay, site of the “CPAR Seaweeds Showcase Project” with Ms. Aida Andayog, Regional Fisheries R&D Center (RFRDC) manager for Region 5.
According to Ms. Andayog, this CPAR project aims to define and refine technologies on seaweeds with the fisherfolk as active partners of the researchers in understanding and improving local seaweed farming system. The idea is for the community to showcase the best performing seaweed species, Kappaphycus alvarezii, using appropriate management practices to expand farming areas, and improve productivity to meet the volume enough for commercialization. The management of the seaweed farms is undertaken by the farmers thus, allowing them to investigate and observe for themselves the comparative advantage of the technology being tested vis-à-vis their practice.
Ultimately, the project aims to make an efficient and competitive seaweed-based industry ensuring its sustainability and contribute to the economic growth of the region by providing sufficient livelihood to the local fishers. The main beneficiaries of the project are members of PSFTA together with the nine barangay associations in the Bicol region.
Specifically, the objectives of the “CPAR Seaweeds Showcase Project” are:
- develop and verify seaweeds technologies responsive to the needs of the fisherfolk and in turn, accelerate technology transfer and commercialization,
- produce quality seaweed seed plants,
- improve and increase seaweed production from 3 to 7 tons/ha,
- increase farmers’ income from 50% to 100%,
- strengthen seaweed farming commercialization, and
- develop appropriate preventive management and control measures of seaweeds diseases.
Now on its second year, its sustainability is maintained through a memorandum of understanding signed by BAR, BFAR-5, SSC, and LGU Pilar. BAR is responsible for project coordination, monitoring, evaluation, and financial assistance and management.