Dagupan ‘bangus’ is top seller

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DAGUPAN CITY—If it’s Dagupan “bangus” (milkfish), it must be the best. But quality always comes with a price.

This is the reason bangus growers here have been making a killing in the markets.

City agriculturist Emma Molina said a kilogram of bangus now sells for P120 to P130 higher than its price of P95 a kilogram two years ago.

“This is because Dagupan bangus are now all grown in ponds,” Molina said. “And even if its price is high, traders still buy it.”

Bangus growers shifted back to culturing bangus in ponds after Mayor Benjamin Lim ordered the dismantling of all fishing structures, including fish pens, in this city’s rivers in 2010.

Bangus pens proliferated here in the mid-1980s because of lower production costs and higher yields. But pollution and a series of fishkill episodes in the succeeding years compelled the city government to clear the rivers.

Molina, in an earlier interview, said pond-cultured bangus are tastier because of “lablab,” an alga with an organic component that grows naturally at the bottom of shallow fertile ponds.

And unlike in fish pens, where hundreds of thousands of bangus can be grown, a hectare of pond can only accommodate about 5,000 fish.

“So, bangus grown in ponds are more expensive. But people would pay the price for it because of its taste. The price becomes secondary as long as they’re satisfied with the product,” Molina said.

She said bangus production here was expected to go down by about 40 percent shortly after the fish pens were dismantled.

“But today, the decrease seems to be only at about 25 percent. But we are still validating this,” Molina said.

This is because, she said, bangus raisers had told her they are now raising their stocks for only three to four months, shorter than the normal culture period of six months.

Despite the reduction in bangus production here, Molina said there will be enough bangus when the city holds on April 30 its “Kalutan ed Dalan” (grilling on the streets), a highlight of the Bangus Festival.

“We will be needing about 4,000 kg for that event and our local bangus growers assured us that they can give us what we need,” Molina said.

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