Marcos addresses salty reality

The Marcos administration on Monday assured that the government has concrete plans for the modernization of the “long neglected” salt industry and expansion of its local production.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles said different government agencies, not only the Department of Agriculture, will have a key role in setting out the administration’s plan to enable the sector to become self-sufficient.

“The national government is now working double time to beef-up support for the salt industry to enhance the production of the local salt in the country,” Angeles said.

Angeles said the DA will lead various government agencies in implementing programs and initiatives to boost salt production and supply.

DA shall also work to expand salt production areas and push for the development of technologies and various machinery to accelerate salt production.

Facilities for processing, packaging, and value-adding will be provided to marginal salt makers under a co-sharing agreement.

Phl imports 93% of salt needs

The Philippines has about 36,000 kilometers of shoreline, which could have been a good source of salt. Unfortunately, despite the vast resources, the country imports 93 percent of its total salt requirements.

The DA thus issued a tall order among national government agencies to work closely to ramp up the development of the local salt industry and soon enable the sector to become self-sufficient.

Self-sufficiency means meeting the consumption needs of a country, particularly for staple food crops, from its production rather than by buying or importing.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a country is food self-sufficient if the domestic food production is enough or exceeds 100 percent of a country’s food consumption.

DA Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs and DA spokesperson Kristine Evangelista said the DA, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, will lead various research and development activities and provide technical assistance to marginal and artisanal salt makers.

Decline in salt production

According to DA, several factors have contributed to the decline in salt production, including low-quality control and lagging product improvement.

Evangelista said limited development has also been noted, including the lack of innovation and interventions, as well as low enterprise and investment opportunities that resulted in a production decrease of the commodity.

“In addition, the sector has failed to adapt to the challenges caused by global climate change, food safety standards, quality requirements, and tariff reduction, and meet the mandatory iodization imposed by Republic Act 8172, or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide,” she said.

Under the ASIN law, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, along with other appropriate government agencies, needs to identify areas suitable for use as salt farms to protect them from environmental risks to ensure the sustainability of iodized salt production.

The law also mandates the Department of Trade and Industry to assist and support local salt producers and/or manufacturers in upgrading their production technologies to include iodization by helping them obtain soft loans and financial assistance for the procurement of salt iodization machines, packaging equipment, and technology. The agency should also help ensure the systematic distribution of iodized salt in the market.

ASIN law requires the addition of iodine to all salt intended for animal and human consumption to eliminate micronutrient malnutrition in the country.

Last year, the BFAR set in motion a P100-million Development of the Salt Industry Project under the Special Budget Request of the Congressional-Introduced Initiative Project.

Price of dried fish up

Senator Imee Marcos on Monday expressed her dismay over an alleged shortage of salt which has led to higher prices of dried fish like tuyo and daing and fish paste or bagoong that are part of the ordinary Filipinos’ diet.

In a statement, Imee questioned the need to import salt adding that salt is easy to produce, citing that the country as an archipelago is surrounded by saltwater.

Due to an alleged shortage of salt, the price of salinas tuyo has increased from P200 to P280 per kilogram in wet markets in Tondo, Manila, and Balintawak, Quezon City, according to the eldest sister of the Chief Executive, who is the concurrent head of the Department of Agriculture.

“We’ve taken salt for granted despite its many uses not only in cooking but also in health and agriculture. Salt is used in manufacturing medicines, food preservatives, animal feed and fertilizer,” Imee said.

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