Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the programme called “Isda sa Kabukiran” or Fish in the Rural Areas would entail the direct involvement of the BFAR and the PFDA in a distribution system wherein the fishing communities and fishermen would be organised and provided with ice-making and cold storage facilities.
From the cold storage facilities, fish would then be brought by fish cars owned by the fishermen’s associations to strategic locations in the interior areas called the Provincial Fish Distribution Centers.
The Centers would be equipped with cold storage and ice-making facilities where fish vendors could buy wholesale for resale in the wet markets.
In other more remote areas, a municipal Fish Distribution Center could also be set up where local vendors could also buy wholesale at a lower price.
Piñol noted that in many fishing grounds, up to 40 per cent of the fish catch is lost to spoilage simply because there are no cold storage or ice-making facilities.
While ordinary fish like “tamban” or sardines is sold for as low as P20 to P25 per kilo in many fishing communities, many poor families living in the mountains and interior towns and villages could not buy fish.
Under the present system, private fish traders who own fish cars buy from the fish consolidators in the fish ports.
They would then bring the fish supply to the interior towns but by then the price would already be too high mainly because of the profit earned by the fish consolidator and the kilos of fish the fish cars throw into the police and military checkpoints along the route.
By the time, the P25-per-kilo “tamban” reaches the interior areas, the price would have already breached P200 per kilo.
PFDA General Manager Glen Pangapalan proposed the system to Secretary Piñol, who approved it as it fits President Duterte’s concept of a National Food Supply Positioning and Distribution System. DA Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona, BFAR Director, was immediately directed to coordinate with the PFDA for the immediate implementation of this program for 2017.
“Isda sa Kabukiran” now stands as one of the major innovations in the fishing industry which would ensure that our fishermen would earn more from their labor, the DA Secretary said.
It would ensure the availability of low-cost fish in the countryside where farmers and farm workers also contribute to President Duterte’s commitment of “Available and Affordable Food,” Piñol said.