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Rice Eel Turned from Pest to Profit

Lucy Towers
17 January 2014, at 12:00am

PHILIPPINES - The rice eel (Monopterus albus) has been considered by many farmers as a pest, but last year it turned out to be a dollar-earner according to Director Jovita P. Ayson of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office.

The rice eel brought an estimated amount of one billion export value when the region started exporting the commodity in Asian countries like China, Taiwan and Singapore last December 2013.

“At first, farmers blamed BFAR for the infestation of rice eel as they believed that we are the culprit because of our Eel Enhancement project regionwide but what we dispersed yearly is around 200 thousand elvers of the Anguilla specie of eel and not the Monopterus albus,” Ayson disclosed.

However, BFAR recently developed an environment-friendly eel traps which were already distributed to the different infested areas for farmer's higher catch of live rice eel being sold to consolidators for export to other countries at P90 per kilo, Ayson added.

Almost 2,500 units of eel trap was distributed to different municipalities and now being replicated by farmers.

“Many farmers are now rejoicing over the presence of rice eel as it serves as the source of their daily income,” the director added.

BFAR likewise reached to women in areas where rice eel is abundant, teaching them the process of making longganisa, burger patties and shanghai rolls out of the fish flesh and making crispy chicharon out of the skin respectively.

Earlier, Director Asis G. Perez of BFAR Central Office commended the effort of the regional office for turning the pests as an opportunity for farmers to gain additional income.