More than P.5M worth tilapia hatchery project launched in Davao Oriental PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 October 2010 15:27

GOV. GENEROSO, Davao Oriental -- The governor in this eastcoast province of the Davao Region recently led the launching of the first ever public-private partnership program in a coastal village here, a more than half a million-peso worth tilapia hatchery project that will showcase the beneficial business partnership between the local government and the cash-strapped small-scale farmers.

Change-maker Governor Corazon Malanyaon, who is determined on achieving her goal of changing and empowering the lives of her poor constituents, is pointing to public-private partnership program as the best strategy to combat massive hunger that is prevalent especially in the far-flung villages of the province.

Tilapia is a low-fat fish that has become one of the most important aquaculture fish in the world grown in large farms and produced for mass consumption.

A small fish that originally comes from Africa, tilapia is a white fish with a slight pinkish color that is excellent for grilling and broiling.

The P575,000-worth tilapia hatchery and nursery center is the first of its kind here located in a coastal village of Tibanban in the municipality of Governor Generoso.

A brainchild of Gov. Malanyaon, the tilapia hatchery project here is getting the full support of the provincial and municipal governments and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The provincial government shouldered forty percent of the total cost of the project in the amount of P225,000, while BFAR and the municipal government of Governor Generoso extended P175,000 and P50,000, respectively to the project.

Small-scale farmer Rudy Rubio, who owned the two-hectare property where the tilapia hatchery and nursery center was established, only shelled out P125,000 as his equity of the first ever public-private partnership program here.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has earlier issued Executive Order No. 8 that created Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines that aim to accelerate the financing, construction and operation of key government infrastructure projects.

The center is expected to extend assistance to all local government units and other government instrumentalities in the implementation of projects, provide advisory services in project preparation and development, recommend policies with regard to program implementation, monitor all projects and programs, and manage and administer the revolving fund to be called the Project Development and Monitoring Facility.

"I am so happy for this project. This is the best way to combat hunger. And we have to be strongly united against hunger. We hope to replicate this in other municipalities of the province," said Malanyaon who is also pushing for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat.

The public-private partnership program will focus in improving greater participation of the private sector in the provision of public services and infrastructure as the government does not have enough funds to finance the construction of better facilities.

Malanyaon believe the program will enable the government to achieve sustainable growth that can lead to more job opportunities especially in the countryside.

George Campeon, BFAR regional executive director in Southern Mindanao who also graced the inauguration of the tilapia hatchery project here saying that in light of a dwindling production of marine fish in the country, the government is now pushing for the establishment of more mariculture parks and freshwater aquaculture.

Campeon said yield from capture fisheries have steadily declined due to unabated problems on overfishing, destructive fishing methods, pollution and loss of marine habitats.

He said mariculture parks serves as alternative sources of livelihood for marginalized and sustenance fisherfolk.

Moreover, the provincial government have successfully established the 500-hectare Pujada Bay Mariculture Park in the capital town of Mati that have greatly revitalized the local aquaculture industry in the province.

It has secured the support of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center whose main mandate is to promote fisheries development in Southeast Asia.

Campeon said the farming of fish and other aquatic animals or aquaculture is an increasingly important rural activity and source of food and income in the countryside.

Aquaculture activity includes breeding, rearing and sale of fish fry and fingerlings, and growing of fry and fingerlings in enclosed or semi-enclosed water bodies such as ponds, rice fields and fish cages.

"Good news for all the tilapia growers in Davao Oriental. You no longer have to travel outside of your province to buy tilapia fingerlings because you can now buy fingerlings from this hatchery center in the municipality of Governor Generoso. And I assure you that the Tilapia fingerlings that you buy from this hatchery center are of high quality," Campeon said.

Campeon said the establishment of the first tilapia hatchery and nursery center here "will definitely encourage many small farmers to also engage in tilapia production because it has become a lucrative business and especially that they witnessed the all-out support being extended by the government for this program."

Rotchie Ravelo, technical assistant of the provincial government's Pagkain at Kita Program, says that four more tilapia hatchery and nursery centers are set to be established in the municipalities of Lupon, Manay, Caraga and Cateel.

In order for the project to become truly meaningful, Gov. Malanyaon has vowed to undertake measures that would ensure the tilapia hatchery project here will become sustainable and viable, citing "sad experiences" in the past wherein meaningful government projects were left unfinished due to change of political leadership.

"So there should be a monitoring component to this project and later an assessment of the impact of the project on the community," Malanyaon said who stressed the importance of institutionalization of development projects "if we want meaningful change to occur."

Rudy Rubio, farmer cooperator of the tilapia hatchery project here, says he never thought he would get an "overwhelming support" from the government for his tilapia business.

"I never thought I would be getting this overwhelming support from the government because originally my plan is to do this business on our own, not expecting any assistance from the government. I am so glad that well-meaning people in the local government appreciated my efforts to become a successful entrepreneur and their offer of assistance is simply irresistible," Rubio said who put up 22 percent equity for the public-private business partnership program here.

"I think I would not be able to reach this far if the government did not extend assistance to me and offer partnership program that would ensure success for this business. This kind of government program truly helps the small farmers who aspire to become successful entrepreneurs. Let's support this kind of meaningful government program that would truly lift the people from abject poverty," Rubio said.

"My small business now employs at least five people. If this can be replicated in other villages of the province, we will really be able to solve poverty in our midst," Rubio added as he excitedly supported the local government's plan to also turn his two-hectare fish farm into a tourist destination.

For her part, Gov. Malanyaon says her administration "will readily extend assistance to small-scale farmers who have strong passion and dedication to become successful entrepreneurs. We will be your strong partners in development." She says the provincial government was "deeply inspired" by the strong will of farmer Rudy Rubio to succeed in his business endeavor, "thus we extend our all-out support to him."

The tilapia project is just one of the many components of the provincial government's flagship poverty alleviation program called Pagkain at Kita and Agri-business Development Program. In pushing aggressively for her Pagkain at Kita and Agri-business Development Program, Malanyaon told the small farmers in the eleven municipalities here who are the target beneficiaries of her poverty alleviation program that "Every one of us has the capacity to create new wealth from what God has given us in great abundance like water from our rivers and streams and vast tract of lands."

"Matag yuta adunay tanom (Every parcel of land should be planted with crops)" is the resounding theme of Gov. Malanyaon's flagship program which is now being taken to heart by the marginalized farmers both in upland and lowland villages of the province.

The provincial government aims to increase its fishery production by establishing many more tilapia fry and fingerlings production centers and intensify technology transfer and fishpond development support. It also vows to extend more post-harvest and processing facilities, build more farm-to-market roads, conserve and protect rivers, lakes, streams and coastal resources and establish more mariculture parks.

Specifically, it plans to expand the areas of production of tilapia from 70 hectares to 120 hectares and increase production from 176 metric tons to 456 metric tons.

For milkfish, it plans to expand areas of production from 700 hectares to 1,201 hectares and increase production from 3,100 metric tons to 9,600 metric tons. For marine fish, it plans to expand production from 9,000 metric tons to 20,000 metric tons.