Big, happy crowd shows up in opening of seaweed fest PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 14:15

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi – A big crowd yesterday filled the three-hectare  ground of the Department of Education (DepEd) in this capital to witness the opening of the 12th Seaweeds Festival.

Farmers, cultivators and traders along with domestic and foreign tourists cheered the participants coming from the 11 towns of the province yesterday as they entered the DepEd compound dressedin colorful costumes or attire for a dance showdown.

Gov Sadikul Sahali and other top officials of the provincial government here welcomed the  delegates  coming from the towns of  Bongao, Languyan, Mapun (Cagayan De Tawi-Tawi or Cagayan de Sulu), Panglima Sugala, Sapa-Sapa, Sibutu,  Simunul, Sitangkai, South Ubian, Tandubas and  Turtle Islands

In his welcome address, Sahali reminded the delegates as he also informed the visitors here that Tawi-Tawi is a major producer of seaweeds in the country today and the Philippines is one of the top producers of red seaweeds in the world, next to China and Japan.

Sahali also recognized the improvement  and new techniques adopted by seaweed farmers aimed to obtain high yield in their production.

Seaweeds are exported either in raw forms (fresh or dried seaweeds) or processed forms (semi-refined chips or carageenan and refined carageenan).

The major commercial seaweeds in the Philippines are Eucheuma, Kappaphycus, Gracilaria and Caulerpa lentillifera. Other seaweeds with economic importance are Codium, Gelidiela acerosa, Halymenia, Porphyra and sargassum.

Sahali said seaweed farming used to be an alternative livelihood during the early  80’s but  it  is now emerging to be an important and major livelihood in the coastal areas in the province.

The high profit and fast return on investment motivates farmers to shift from fishing into seaweeds farming, the governor here explained.

About 58 percent of the total production are processed into semi-refined chips or carageenan, and 31 percent are exported raw  or dried, and the remaining 11 percent are processed into refined carageenan.

The  low proportion of seaweeds that is processed into refined carageenan is attributed to high cost of production and lack of technology in the province, he lamented.

Kappaphycus alvarezii and Eucheuma denticulatum are the major species of seaweeds cultivated  in the province today, he  newsmen here covering the event.

Seaweed is an important component of the marine ecosystem along with the mangrove and coral reefs and can be viewed in two perspectives, from its ecological value as well as its economic uses, Sahali explained

Sahali said that seaweeds also  contained in some medicines used to cure at least five major diseases - tuberculosis, arthritis, colds, influenza and also worm infections.

Agar, a substance extracted from seaweed, is used in the culture of bacteria and other microorganisms. Petri plates that medical technicians use are lined with agar gels and incubated, and hospital laboratories use agar plates too to identify various types of infectious bacteria.

Agarose is another substance extracted from seaweeds and commonly used in the area of medicine, specifically in chromatography to purify proteins, DNA and other substances, he explained to newsmen. — Nonoy E Lacson