Hike funding

Seaweed producers appeal for financial support from the Palais

A group of seaweed producers is urging the Marcos administration to increase budget support to the industry to boost domestic production and tap into the huge local and global market potential.

Alfredo Pedrosa III, president of the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines, called on the government to reduce annual budget support for the seaweed industry to around 250 million pesos.

Pedrosa lamented that government funding for the local seaweed industry has steadily declined over the past five years, plunging to just 40 million pesos this year.

Pedrosa pointed out that the amount of government aid is “miserable” compared to the annual export revenue that seaweed generates for the country.

Pedrosa pointed out that the country earns about $200 million from seaweed exports, but the government only channels about $781,000 to $3.6 million in financial support. “The seaweed industry in 2012 had 250 million pesos. Today it is around 40 million pesos,” he revealed at the PCAFI-HAN Usapang Pagkain forum on Friday.

“If the budget goes back to 250 million pesos, it would already be a huge help for the industry,” he added.

Pedrosa noted that the government budget for the seaweed industry in 2018 was 138 million pesos, 198 million pesos in 2019, 59.2 million pesos in 2020, 43 million pesos in 2021 and 47 million pesos. for 2022.

Meanwhile, the country’s total seaweed export value in the past five years reached $191.143 million in 2018, $221.316 million in 2019, $175.59 million in 2020 and $209.588 million in 2021, Pedrosa said.

Pedrosa pointed out that seaweed has enormous growth potential due to its versatility as a food additive, pharmaceutical ingredient and laboratory material.

In fact, Pedrosa pointed out that seaweed can even be used as an organic fertilizer and animal feed product, which could help local farmers cope with the rising prices of inorganic planting inputs.

He explained that additional budgetary support from the government is needed to develop seaweed farms as the country has a huge unexploited hectare suitable for seaweed production.

Pedrosa said the country has a total of 102,000 hectares of municipal water that can be used for seaweed production, but only 17,000 hectares are used.

Pedrosa said the 85,000 unused hectares are capable of producing an additional 640,000 metric tons of dried seaweed.

Additionally, Pedrosa said the industry could venture into deep-sea seaweed farming, as the country has an available deep-water area of ​​around 500,000 hectares.

Bad propaganda vs carrageenan

Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food President Danilo V. Fausto supported Pedrosa’s call and argued that the government should also allocate funds to fund the country’s marketing campaign to fight against misinformation and misinformation against carrageenan.

Pedrosa revealed that the country’s carrageenan is facing a massive misinformation and misinformation campaign in major overseas markets, particularly the United States.

This misinformation and misinformation, Pedrosa explained, claims that carrageenan is bad for people’s health and should not be allowed to be used as a food additive.

Pedrosa claimed that “people with special interests” who seek to replace carrageenan as a food and pharmaceutical additive with other alternative products support the bad propaganda against carrageenan.

Carrageenan is one of the country’s flagship products from seaweed. The Philippines ranks second in the global market in terms of carrageenan exports. “We are losing to this widespread misinformation and misinformation. There are even some products that have labels that say: warning with carrageenan,” Pedrosa said.

“What is wrong with carrageenan? To protect this industry, we need to work together, the public sector and the private sector,” he added.

Pedrosa said Philippine carrageenan is experiencing the same smear campaign that the country’s coconut oil suffered in the United States a few years ago.

Picture credits: Picture DOST-S4CP