MANILA The local aquaculture industry is looking at boosting the production of pangasius to meet growing demand for pangasius fillet both in the local and foreign market.
The industry even targets to at least substitute the country's importation of pangasius fillet with locally-grown pangasius by 2016.
Pangasius fillet is seen to impact substantially in the food sufficiency thrust of the government, Department of Industry (DTI) Regional Operations and Development Group (RODG) Undersecretary Merly M. Cruz said during this years National Pangasius Conference in Antipolo City.
DTI, through RODG, earlier pushed a project on pangasius mainly to address the governments food security program, and provide livelihood projects.
Pangga (pangasius hypothalamus) was introduced by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the Philippines in 1981. It belongs to the catfish family and known commonly then as an aquarium fish, named hammer head shark.
The current focus on the pangasius industry is seen as a strategy for inclusive growth. It is looked at as a cluster-based development aimed at creating sustainable employment in the countryside and contributing to the food security program through micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) development, Cruz said.
The DTI-RODG piloted its pangasius project in Mindanao, particularly in regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. The project expanded in regions 3, 4, 5, and 8. As of December 2011, a total of P202.358 million investments were recorded. These investments created 915 jobs in the industrys hatcheries, nursery ponds, grow-out farms and processing companies.
Our average monthly imports of pangasius fillet from Vietnam amounts to 600 metric tons valued at US$ 1.650 million, Cruz said.
The Vietnams Mekong River is known for its tra (pangasius hypothalamus) and basa (pangasius bocourti) catfish varieties. These fish varieties were usually processed into fillet, nuggets, patties, steaks and steamed dumplings. These pangasius fillet were sold locally in grocery stores, and supplied in high-end and fast food chain restaurants like McDonalds, Chow King and Kenny Rogers.
The importation of pangasius fillet from Vietnam increased from 2008 to 2010. It only declined in 2011, Cruz said.
From 2008 to 2009, the countrys imports of pangasius increased by 69 percent, from 2,751 to 4,652 metric tons. In 2010, this trend continued, pangasius imports grew to 6,689 metric tons or 44 percent growth from the past year.
In 2011, the volume of imported pangasius from Vietnam fell to 4,836 metric tons, or 28 percent decrease from its 2010 level. This decrease can be attributed to the collaborative efforts of the government and the private sector to support the industry and the growing market of pangasius.
By 2016, our goal is to substitute the countrys imports of Pangasius, which mostly come from Vietnam, Cruz claimed.
If the country will be able to substitute its monthly importation of 600 metric tons of pangasius fillet by 2016, two hundred seventy (270) hectares of land will be developed. This is expected to generate in Php650 million investments and Php945 million sales. Two thousand seven hundred (2,700) workers will be employed, Cruz said.
According to BFAR data, total local production of pangasius grew by an average of 186.74 percent from 2008 to 2010.
The increase in pangasius production can be attributed to the growing interest of Filipino businessmen to invest in pangasius industry. This reflects that government and private sectors efforts have paid off, and we need to sustain this momentum to ensure that the growth achieved will rebound to more growth and more benefits for all, Cruz said. (PNA)