Sultan Kudarat offers tilapia for export

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
2 May 2007, at 1:00am

ISULAN - Local officials and business leaders in Sultan Kudarat have urged the National Government and exporters to look at the province's tilapia industry. The country has a key target: to increase exports of fillets to the United States.

Elena U. Haw, the Sultan Kudarat-based chairman of the Federation of Business Chambers Mindanao Foundation, said the province's tilapia industry, based in Lutayan town, is capable of supplying part of the increasing demand.

"Our tilapia industry has been around for a long time. It is a stable industry and the attraction of Sultan Kudarat's tilapia is that they're grown naturally," she said.

Sultan Kudarat Representative Suharto Mangudadatu, whose family owns a significant proportion of tilapia rearing cages at Lake Buluan, said that local tilapia producers have yet to maximise their potential in the export market.

He said that his buyers were mostly from Mindanao who may have been shipping the tilapia to other parts of the country like Manila.

However, Haw beleives that the possibility of sending Sultan Kudarat tilapia abroad would have a very positive effect on the local economy. It could reduce poverty in the area and the improved prospects may encourage more local people to start farming tilapia.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Malcolm I. Sarmiento said the bureau was now gearing-up to increase tilapia production. It wants to produce more fillets for the US market by next year. US demand for the product increased to 24,000 tons in 2005, compared with the 4,000 ton demand of 2002.

"The biggest market now for tilapia is the US," said Sarmiento.

He said the Philippines is already capable of producing the required export volume as it ranks second in world production, next to China.

Source: Sun Star