ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal, Sept 4 (PIA) — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Rizal and Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) held a seminar on the pangasius industry at the Rizal Provincial Capitol, Antipolo City to encourage local entrepreneurs and agriculture officers to venture into the industry.
DTI, BFAR and the provincial government held the Investment Opportunity Seminar on pangasius together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) last August 31 to give possible investors a brief background on the fish industry.
DTI-Rizal Provincial Director Mercedes Parreño said the pangasius industry is one of the national government’s flagship programs not just in Rizal province but nationwide.
She added that the country imports up to 600 metric tons (MT) of pangasius per year from countries like Vietnam. Because of this, the DTI is advocating its Fingerlings to Fillet (F2F) initiative to help local investors venture into the industry and in the long run, replace imported fish fillet with local products.
“By 2016 we are hoping to produce at least 20 percent of what we are importing,” said Parreño.
Parreño said Rizal has an advantage in the industry since it has a hatchery where investors from Visayas or Mindanao get their fingerlings.
A constraint encountered by those from Mindanao who transport it from Rizal is the low recovery rate since a big percentage of the fingerlings die enroute and because of shipping costs.
“These investors from Mindanao also come to Rizal for the training in the pangasius industry due to our capability in the industry.”
BFAR-National Inland Fisheries Technology Center Chief Aida Palma said pangasius is a specie of the river catfish endemic to the Mekong River which extends in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand and thrives due to aquatic weeds.
“Pangasius is not a carnivorous fish. It starts out as a detritivores (fish which feed on food particles in water) and later on becomes a herbivore. Contrary to misconceptions, these are not carnivorous nor are they ‘monster fishes’ which eat smaller fish,” Palma said.
DTI and BFAR explained that pangasius is not a replacement for tilapia or other widely bred and consumed varieties but, rather an additional option for food sufficiency.
A condition strictly observed by the agencies is that pangasius should only be contained and bred inland in artificial ponds and not in other natural water sources such as Laguna Lake since the fish endemic to the Mekong River will not lay eggs in any other body of water. “Pangasius will only lay eggs in ponds when artificially induced.” Palma said.
Also present during the forum were DOST-Rizal Provincial Director Fernando Ablaza, Rizal Provincial Administrator Russel Ynares, Provincial Agriculturist Reynaldo Bonita and officials from the local governments of Jalajala, Tanay, Binangonan, Antipolo, Pililia and Cainta.
DTI and BFAR also work hand in hand with DOST which supports the initiative through providing technology and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry which also provides funds, fingerlings and assistance to entrepreneurs. (CPG/GG-PIA4A)