Tilapia production can’t meet local demand
CLARK FREEPORT—There is still not enough tilapia to meet local demand, agriculture officials said during the 4th Tilapia Congress at Fontana Convention Park here.
But the industry and the government still intend to make the fish a global export commodity, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said in a speech read for him by Andrew Villacorta, director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Luzon.
In his speech, Alcala said the 270,000 metric tons of tilapia being produced annually had not been sufficient to meet the domestic demand.
The DA has embarked on a food sufficiency program under the Aquino administration and is aiming to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food items by 2016.
The agency plans to address the shortfall by developing 950,000 hectares of swamps, wetlands and several lakes in the Bicol region for tilapia production, Alcala said.
Only Central Luzon has been producing huge volumes of tilapia, which represent 45 percent of the national production, he said.
A kilo of tilapia used to cost as much as a man’s minimum wage in the 1980s, Director Asis Perez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said, citing his experience with the commodity in Laguna province.
“Tilapia at that time was served only during birthday celebrations or fiestas. It was considered food for the rich,” he said.
Today, he said, the price of tilapia had gone down to the more affordable P100 a kilo.
“As a matter of fact, tilapia is now one of the seven basic commodities being monitored by the government, next to rice,” he added.
DA and BFAR officials present at the congress exchanged tips with tilapia growers, who have expressed their desire to export the fish. Jun Malig, Inquirer Central Luzon
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.