OLUTANGA, Zamboanga Sibugay: Organized fish drying industry players here have acquired a modern facility to increase in several folds their production in more quantity and quality levels, according to assisting authorities.
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the principal assisting agency, turned over on Sunday, March 7 the enabling Steam-Powered Fish Drying Facility, including a Vacuum-Packing Equipment, to the recipient group amid resounding applause by residents and town officials.
The facility, which was earlier sought by fishing residents as a vital important intervention to improve their economic conditions, will not only maximize production of quality and clean dried fish but also add value to the fish catch in this island town, said MinDA Chairman Manny Piñol, who led the symbolic turnover rite here.
This town, one of 26 rich fishing grounds piloted under the MinDA’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Program (MInFAD), was visited months ago by Sec. Piñol in his regular “Beauty and Bounty of Mindanao” visitations.
The steam-powered fish drying facility can dry as much as 400 kilos per 6 hours, and operate at night or even during rainy days because the main source of heat is a mini-boiler system designed and fabricated by a Mindanao inventor, Engr. Rudy Cane of Butuan City, Sec. Piñol said.
He said the MinDA initiative has been rallied by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture by providing this town with six Fiberglass boats, three of which will be used to patrol waters surrounding the island to stop illegal fishing.
Olutanga Mayor Arthur Ruste Sr. enthusiastically witnessed Sunday’s turnover ceremony, during which fishing locals named four fish species fit for processing into dried fish – Danggit, Balo, Bangsi and squid, locally called Lomayagan.
Piñol said the facility’s products were assured of marketing in different supermarkets in Mindanao, including a chain of supermarkets in Cebu City, the Ultramart owned by General Santos City-based business couple, Nathaniel and Marivet Caballero.
The facility will initially accommodate raw fish catches from the neighboring two towns of Mabuhay and Talusan in Zamboanga Sibugay to maximize production on a cohesive approach, he said.
Piñol urged local officials to “unite and avail of the loaning programs of both the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines to acquire modern fishing boats to support the program.”
The facility’s turnover “came six months after I visited Olutanga on Sept. 1, 2020 during which I discovered the vast potentials of the town and the whole island in fisheries and aquaculture production,” the MinDA chief recalled.
Olutanga is the first fishing town of Mindanao to receive processing facilities pipelined under MinDA’s “Fish Centers Initiative,” he said.
Twenty five other Mindanao fishing communities are programmed to receive facilities like ice-makers, blast freezers, cold storage, and processing equipment to enable fisherfolk to add value to their catch, he added.
The program is one of the projects to be funded by the European Union Grant Fund for the MINPAD RISE program.
(Ali G. Macabalang/PMT/SRNY/RSP)