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Fish Farms Fight Poverty in Uplands

PHILIPPINES - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Philippines has come up with a project that will address the protein needs of upland dwellers, while fighting poverty through fish farming.

Called the Fish for Upland Dwellers project or FishFUD, the project is now being pilot-tested in the upland tribal community of the Higaonons, one of the numerous indigenous tribes in Mindanao. Some 300 to 400 families will initially benefit from the pilot programme, writes Joel D. Adriano of IPS News.

"FishFUD is a good pro-poor project," said BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento. "It will improve access to food, and will also provide them with livelihood income. The project is the first major investment for an indigenous peoples’ community anywhere in the country, and will go a long way towards securing a better deal for them through the wonders of modern aquaculture technology."

Alvarez adds, "It is also government’s way of addressing three pressing issues in the upland settlements: food insufficiency, inadequate livelihood opportunities and lack of economic incentives to practice sustainable stewardship of forest resources."

According to IPIS, the project is two-pronged: one part in the lowlands and another in the highlands, thus increasing its chances for success.

In the lowland component, BFAR gave the Higaonons, through the Sumilao Tribal Council, a standard 10 x 10 sq. metre floating fish cage which could yield seven metric tons of milkfish every three months.

The cage is located in the 200-hectare "mariculture" - fish farming in the open ocean - park in Balingasag, some 50 kilometres from Sumilao. BFAR also donated 15,000 bangus or milkfish fingerlings, which were distributed by President Gloria Arroyo herself during a Mar. 20 visit to Balingasag.

The other component is a communal fish pond that will be established in the uplands community and stocked with either tilapia or catfish.

the Fish Site Editor

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