Bringing in more economic activities to Albuera

The Philippine Association of Coastal and Water Inland Ferries Inc. (PACIWFI) is barely two months old, but our advocacy, as well as initial plans, has already caught the attention
of some well-meaning groups that saw their potential, not only in helping develop coastal water transport, but also in increasing fisheries production.

Among these groups is CAMP, the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization in the Philippines, chaired by former University of the Philippines president Dr. Emil Javier and its incumbent President Dr. Eufemio Rasco Jr. We were invited to one of CAMP’s meetings to make a presentation on the role of the shipbuilding industry in improving the lives of small fisherfolk and the fish value chain.

CAMP is a non-government organization, whose members include agriculturists and economists, as well as people in the academe, government and people from international organizations, who are committed in promoting the modernization of the country’s agriculture and fishery sectors.

We had a chance to have a glimpse of some of CAMP’s proposed measures submitted to the government. We believe these proposals made their way to the President’s first State of the Nation Address (SoNA) as it contained details and specific actions that the agriculture sector needs.

The presentation we made during the CAMP meeting focused on the initial plans of IMP Shipyard and Ports Services in the coastal community of Albuera, Leyte, where the primary means of livelihood is fishing.

IMP Shipyard is not all about business. Since it will be in Albuera for the long haul, it is also concerned with the community where it belongs. Aside from providing around 300 jobs in the area, once the shipyard is fully operational, it will seek to spur more economic activities in Albuera.

In collaboration with the fisherfolk, the local government, the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), IMP Shipyard will set up a fish port in Albuera as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

The shipyard will allocate 2,600 square meters of its land adjacent to the shipyard (with an 80-meter sea frontage) for the construction of a small fish port with cold storage facilities, which may be funded by public-private partnership (PPP) or through IMP Shipyard. Albuera Mayor Sixto de la Victoria has already expressed his full support for the initiative.

The government-owned PFDA can help in the design of the fish port, as well as in the sale of the fish that the fisherfolk will produce.

To increase the catch, IMP Shipyard will build a commercial fishing vessel that can be operated by a fisherfolk’s cooperative or operators of fishing boats. The fishing vessel can be acquired through a bank loan with the assistance of BFAR or via a rent-to-own scheme.

PACIWFI can also assist in setting up the fisherfolk’s and market vendors’ cooperatives that will serve as social enterprises, as operators of the fishing vessel and the fish port, respectively.

Another option in the absence of a vendors’ cooperative, PACIWFI may put up a foundation to operate the fish port and, at the same time, act as buyer of the produce and sell them to vendors and traders, who can bring them to nearby towns; thus, enhancing the fish value chain up to the consumers.

Should there be not enough catch, the fishing vessel may safely venture out to high seas to improve production and seek guidance from BFAR where to operate to increase its catch.

We are confident that, once in full swing, the fishing vessel and the fish port will bring in more economic activities in the community after the fish produce starts reaching neighboring towns, including Ormoc City, just a 20-minute ride away from Albuera. This initiative, too, will certainly help in achieving food security in the area.

Apparently, CAMP members, including former Socioeconomic Planning secretary Cielito Habito as one of its Board of Directors, found our presentation plausible and practical and inducted yours truly as a member of the coalition.

We trust CAMP to contribute somehow in helping realize the fruits of IMP Shipyard’s CSR initiatives.

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