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Philippines Seaweed Under Threat

PHILIPPINES - Western Mindanaos seaweed exporters nearly doubled their shipment of semi-refined seaweed in the eight months to August this year, compared with the volume and value recorded the same period in 2007, but still the industry is struggling against the tide.

The export revival is due to increasing price of seaweed as global demand rises. A kilogram of dried seaweed reached P120 early this year from a range of P45/kg to P50/kg a year ago says Business World.

However, with the high production cost, poor farming practices, lack of financing, as well as lack of research and development, the country may not be able to hold its present position as dominant producer of dried seaweed in the world, said Alfredo O. Isidro, seaweed and aquaculture advisor for the USAID-funded Growth with Equity in Mindanao program.

Business World reports that the Canadian-funded Philippine Development Assistance Program had underscored how the local price of seedlings has been absorbing as much as 26% of the production cost of seaweed farmers — compared with Indonesia, where seedlings comprise just 8% of the cost — hence, competitiveness of Philippine seaweed exports has been under threat.

"Indonesia is continuing to increase its seaweed production while the Philippines is decreasing its output. That’s the problem," Mr. Isidro said.