Maguindanao folks raise Tilapia in war-torn enclave PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 July 2014 13:32

The fragile peace and the potentials of tilapia culture are enticing Moro peasant families to return to a conflict-stricken district in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao which they abandoned due to deadly conflicts in years past.

Life is now returning to normal in Barangay Busligan in Datu Salibo, whose residents were driven away from their enclaves by the deadly encounters between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the military between 2000 and 2008.

Datu Salibo is located in the southeast of Maguindanao.

For local folks, backyard tilapia culture, which is now a lucrative industry in some areas in Maguindanao, was the ‘magnet’ that hastened the return of evacuees.

The local government of Datu Salibo, the office of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, local commanders of the MILF, and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are cooperating in returning the internally displaced people to Barangay Busligan.

The barangay is dotted with swamps and criss-crossed by waterways that connect to the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.

Technical personnel from Mangudadatu’s office facilitated this week the dispersal of 30,000 more tilapia fingerlings to Barangay Busligan residents to jumpstart an industry that can generate additional income for poor community folks.

“This is our first time to raise tilapia in cages. We are sure this project will be profitable because our barangay is endowed with rivers and marshes where we can put up tilapia cages,” 50-year-old Mohdi, an ethnic Maguindanaon said.

Barangay officials are thankful to MILF commanders in Datu Salibo for helping restore law and order in the community, at a time when residents need peace to prevent any disruption of their fishery ventures.

There has not been any single military-MILF encounter in the area since 2010, as a result of the religious enforcement by rebels and Army units in the province of the 1997 GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

Mangudadatu told reporters that local villagers have also been actively helping the local government unit of Datu Salibo in addressing domestic security issues through peace dialogues.

“And their interest on tilapia culture is so high, so fascinating. They deserve support for them to succeed and we’re trying our best to give them that support now,” Mangudadatu said.

Cultured tilapias taste better than those caught in the Liguasan Delta and its tributaries flowing downstream to the towns in the first district of Maguindanao and in Cotabato City.

Since tilapias raised in cages are bigger in size, growers can sell them in higher prices too.

The inland fishery projects in Barangay Busligan also ushered in the reconciliation of feuding Moro families in the area, convinced that harmony will ensure the continuity of their efforts to generate additional income from raising tilapias.

Members of families once hostile to each other have been constructing fish cages in their swampy backyards ‘bayanihan’ style, according to barangay officials.