Postharvest project to support seaweed farmers
Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte- Seaweeds is a challenging enterprise. But for the fisherfolk in Kolambugan, there’s a renewed hope as new infrastructure facilities will aid their production soon.
Simbuko Aquamarine Multipurpose Cooperative (SAMMPC) is granted 9-million seaweeds semiprocessing and marketing through the partnership of the Department of Agriculture Philippine Rural Development Project (DAPRDP) and the Local Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte.
This project will help the SAMMPC to increase their capacity of dried seaweeds with the two (2 units) of concrete solar dryer measuring 10x20m each with capacity of 1,240,320 kilos per year coupled with warehouse measuring 18 sq.m.; two (2 units) of motorize boats; and one (1 unit) hauling/ delivery truck that will encourage the farmer-members to sell their raw wet and dried seaweeds to SAMMPC.
“Last year around November to December, we had a problem with the solar dryer. Lots of our seaweeds had been flooded and we had no place to dry them since the available dryer had a limited capacity. As a result, many of our seaweeds were damaged,” Tedolo Bueno, Chairman of SAMMPC.
Many individual farmers loan money to buy their materials for seaweeds’ temporary dryer made from bamboo but unfortunately, still not everyone could afford it.
One of the seaweed farmers and members of SAMMPC, Cecile Jacalan, who started farming in year 2000 with her husband, shared her hopes in having a solar dryer in their cooperative.
“Because of the increased volume of seaweed products in our barangay, one of our biggest problems as planters is the solar dryer. Since we cannot afford to establish our own dryer, we really dream of having a dryer here in Kolambugan which we think would improve the quality of our products,” said Jacalan.
Aside from their problem with the solar dryer, they also struggle with the uncertainty of seaweeds price. Despite the number of years their cooperative has been operating, they are still at the mercy of middlemen.
Women members of the cooperative drying their seaweeds in the existing solar drier from BFAD. (Photo by Gian Enrique)
“As of now, our market is only through middlemen. Our profit is limited as well as the volume of production. Even though we have plenty of seaweeds here, majority of the farmers do not sell to SAMMPC because the price varies. Usually our competitors are also our buyers. That’s why this PRDP project is very important to us so we can go to the plantation directly,” continued Bueno.
The lack of hauling truck also resulted in high cost of transportation where the cooperative pay for the transportation expenses of the seller member, and then their buyers would pick up the seaweeds in the cooperative where they suffered from low buying price with P13.00 difference from the plantation’s buying price.
The hauling truck and motorized boat will serve as an added value service for its members in far areas and the concrete solar drier will improve the quality of the RDS to be located along the coast of Simbuco, Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte.
Through this enterprise development project, they can finally deliver high quality seaweeds directly to the plantation and totally eliminate the presence of middlemen during the transaction.
SAMMPC was chosen on top of other existing cooperatives because they got the highest points based
(Joy M. Montecalvo, PSO Mindanao InfoACE Unit)