DA-BFAR puts up P40-M sardine cold storage facility in Zambo Norte PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 May 2011 14:53

To ensure continuous year-round production and further prop up the P3-billion sardine fishing and processing industry in Zamboanga, the Department of Agriculture (DA)—in partnership with the City Government of Dapitan and Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Norte—recently constructed an integrated P40-million cold storage facility in San Pedro, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, who led the inauguration April 25, 2011, said the facility can store up to 300 metric tons (MT) of fish in six compartments (50-MT capacity each). It also has a chiller room (100-ton capacity), and a contact freezer (500-kilogram capacity). The facility occupies a developed area of 5,000 square meters. 

The facility was funded by the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). Dapitan City through Mayor Dominador G. Jalosjos donated and cleared a seven-hectare area where the cold storage facility was constructed, while the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Norte led by Governor Rolando E. Yebes will manage and operate the facility.

Sec. Alcala said with the facility, production of bottled sardines (making use of herring fish) will be sustained throughout the year, providing both fishermen and workers sustained livelihood and income. Sardine makers will be able store and process herring, which is abundant only during December to March in Sulu Sea, along the coast of Zamboanga Peninsula.

The sardine fishing and processing industry in Zamboanga directly employs more than 10,000 fishermen and sardine makers and workers. It produces a minimum of 15 million cases of sardines yearly, utilizing 140,000 to 175,000 MT of fish. Of these, 13,000 MT worth $16 million were exported in 2008 to the USA, Italy, and other European countries.

For his part, Dir. Sarmiento said Zamboanga’s bottled sardines industry has now gained a foothold and a niche in the domestic market and is gradually penetrating foreign markets.

He said all of the Zamboanga sardine makers are HACCP-certified, enabling them to sell their products here and abroad. Among them are Mendoza Industries, Alenter Foods, Inc., Tita Rosa Foods Inc., and Montaño Foods Inc.

HACCP stands for Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Point. It is a systematic preventive approach to food safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention. It is used to identify potential food safety hazards, and subsequently reduce or eliminate such risks. The system is used at all stages of food production, preparation, packaging and distribution.

Meanwhile, four canneries engaged in exports (Mega, Universal Canning, Permex, and Columbus Canning) have further upgraded their production systems in compliance with European Union standards, Sarmiento said.

He said the DA-BFAR in Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9) provides training and technical assistance to sardine producers to enable them improve their products and be globally competitive. It maintains a regional laboratory in Zamboanga that offers free services to processors to check on the quality and chemical composition of their products.

On behalf of Zamboanga fishermen, sardine processors and workers, Gov. Yebes and Mayor Jaloslos thanked Secretary Alcala and BFAR Director Sarmiento for their support to further boost the province’s bottled sardines industry, which is their main source of livelihood, employment and income.

Gov. Yeves said there are currently 23 producers of Spanish sardines in the province. They banded together in 2000, and organized the In-glass Sardines of Dipolog Association  or ISDA.

He said the current industry this is a far cry from the time when sardines in glass jars were first introduced to the province by the DA-BFAR in the early 1970’s, inspired by Doña Concepcion Macias Vda. De Montaño, who demonstrated the technology she learned from elite Spanish families who processed their own sardines in bottles.

Yebes said aside from the Montaños, the original Spanish families who produced bottled sardines were the Urquiagas, the Bermedos, and the Buenos.