Seaweed industry eyed for expansion

Seaweed industry eyed for expansion

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said on Sunday that it is planning to increase investment in the seaweed industry to boost its export potential.

“We still have unutilized area of 85,000 hectares. Until we reach that, we shouldn’t stop. If possible, we should accelerate the industry’s expansion,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said in a statement.

He said that the DA has allocated P1 billion for the industry, for investment in large tissue culture laboratories, dryers, warehouses and technician training.

The Philippines produced 1.63 million metric tons of seaweed in 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, up 5.3%.

Mr. Laurel added that the seaweed industry of Indonesia produces five times the output of the Philippines.

“In 1990, the Philippines accounted for 80% of the world’s seaweed requirement while Indonesia only produced 10%. That has since changed. Indonesia produces five times more than the Philippines,” the DA said.

Mr. Laurel said the industry has noted the lack of seed material as an obstacle to further growth.

Industry groups have also called for support in the form of seed material, implements, lines, floaters, and counterweights.

He said logistics issues also need to be resolved, including building more ports to take raw materials to processing plants, as well as the high cost of power.

Most seaweed farms are in Mindanao, while processing facilities are located in Cebu and Manila. — Adrian H. Halili