Several farmer cooperators have greatly benefited from culturing tilapia through the project by the Department of Science and Technology –  Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) that seeks to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in poor communities of the country.

Tilapia PCAARRD - DOST promotes tilapia culturing in Laguna, Batangas
(Photo from Applied Communication Division, PCAARRD / MANILA BULLETIN)

Called  “Tilapia para sa Pamayanan”, this initiative by DOST-PCAARRD aims to make tilapia farming accessible to selected beneficiaries in Laguna and Batangas. 

A total of 14 farmer cooperators culturing tilapia in 17 fishponds with an area of 2,798 sq.m. located in Laguna and Batangas benefited from the project. The project provided free fingerlings, feeds, and technical support to the farmer cooperators.

Started in June of this year, the project has benefited the following barangays in Laguna: Malinao, Taytay, and Munting Kawayan in the municipality of Majayjay; Pupuy in Bay; Mabacan in Calauan; and Malinta in Los Baños. In Batangas, the following barangays are covered: Bucana, Cogonan, Mangahan Putat, Bautista, and Butucan in the municipality of Nasugbu.

“The project will provide our family supply of food and additional income as we can sell our tilapia harvest to our neighbors in our barangay,” said Fe Amor Barcelon in Filipino. Barcelon is a farmer cooperator from Cogonan, Nasugbu, Batangas.

According to Engr. Eduardo V. Manalili, Director of the Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division (IARRD) of PCAARRD, beneficiaries were selected based on two criteria: first, the area of the farmer should have a sustainable source of water and a dug-up land that can serve as a fishpond and second, the farmer should be willing to learn about tilapia culture and processing.

Prior to the actual conduct of tilapia farming, farmer cooperators were trained on: developing and maintaining a fishpond; fertilizing the fishpond using organic or inorganic fertilizers; and harvesting. Moreover, they were also provided information on what feeds should be given to the tilapia, postharvest technology, and record keeping.

Making tilapiang dinanggit, a tilapia processing method, was also taught to the farmer cooperators.

“Our overarching objective for this project is to provide our fellow Filipinos a source of livelihood that can sustain for many years,” said Engr. Manalili

Since the fingerlings and feeds are given for free, James Jacobo, a farmer cooperator from Nasugbu, Batangas, said that this initiative is a huge help for them and other farmers selected for the project. 

“This initiative of the government and PCAARRD is a huge help for us. The only thing we need to do is to maintain the fishpond. In three to four months, we can harvest tilapia, which will benefit our family as well as my caretakers and our neighbors,” Jacobo said in Filipino. 

DOST-PCAARRD spearheaded this project in collaboration with the Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU), Batangas State University (BatSU), local government units, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture (DA-BFAR).   

Part of the project is maintaining three fishponds of LSPU, measuring 180 square meters each. After three months of tilapia culture, the grown-up tilapia were recently harvested from two ponds, totaling 130 kilograms.

Seventy percent or 90 kilograms of the harvest were given to indigent LSPU employees and their families. Meanwhile, 30 percent or 40 kg of the harvest were donated to families isolated in the Los Baños Isolation Facilities. The donation was handed over to Los Baños Mayor Caesar Perez and Los Baños Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) Officer Hanna Erika Labina. 

Tilapia para sa Pamayanan project is just one of the many projects of the Council to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in poor communities of the country. It is part of the program, Good Agri-Aqua Livelihood Initiatives towards National Goals or GALING-PCAARRD Kontra COVID-19. 

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