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Festival boosts tilapia production in Camarines Sur

By Keren Anne Bernadas and Ernesto Delgado


SIX months after the national government gave 80,000 tilapia fingerlings to fisherfolk in Tigaon town, they staged their first Tilapia Harvest Festival on April 5, selling 4,500 kilos of the African freshwater fish.


The fisherfolk compose the Tigaon Inland Fisherfolk Association (TIFA), which in October last year, was awarded a total of P1.4 million worth of tilapia techno demo project under the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program of the Department of Agriculture.


Rowena Briones, public information officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the Bicol region, said that the harvest festival served as a promotional strategy and initiative of the government to showcase tilapia products, expand the market of the beneficiaries, and increase their profits.


“The festival highlighted community involvement and support from other government agencies. Staff and employees purchased various fishery products from the beneficiaries,” said Briones.


During the festival, BFAR provided livelihood interventions, including motorized boats, seaweed farming packages, and fishing gear.


Additionally, post-harvest materials and equipment for tinapa-making were distributed, and a tilapia techno demo project was conducted to train tilapia harvesters on proper fishpond management techniques and the use of other resources like fertilizers and water quality.


In line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directives to steer the agricultural and fishery industry, the SAAD program for Tigaon fisherfolk aims to increase their production profits and market enterprise.


TILAPIA Members of Tigaon Inland Fisherfolk Association in Tigaon, Camarines Sur sell 4,500 kilos of tilapia during the town’s first “Tilapia Harvest Festival” on April 5, 2024. Contributed photo/ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Bicol


Briones said that the SAAD program is committed to boosting its efforts to aid the needs of Tigaon fisherfolk, create more livelihood opportunities and reduce economic challenges.


TIFA president Manuel Culaway said that the harvest festival played a vital role in their growth. He said that they could harvest tilapia in bulk and sell them at a low cost of production.


This has motivated them to continue adding value to their livelihood by gaining knowledge and experience about tilapia culturing and harvest.


Culaway also said that the harvest festival would enable them to establish their office and selling area in Barangay San Antonio, Tigaon.


He added that they are now empowered to continue the fruits of their labor and government assistance.


During the festival, around 10,000 tilapia fingerlings were distributed to 10 beneficiaries from the same association.


Crisel Angela Tosoc, a gourmet cooking expert from the Department of Trade and Industry, trained around 30 association members on tilapia gourmet cooking.


Tilapia stars in cookery event


Cooks from the fisherfolk group were gathered in the municipality of Tigaon in Camarines Sur province to promote tilapia dishes at the town’s first “Tilapia Harvest Festival” held on April 5, 2024.


With tilapia as the main ingredient, the cooks from the Tigaon Inland Fisherfolk Association (TIFA) produced pininyahang tilapia, relyenong tilapia, and tilapia ice cream without the smell and a fishy aftertaste.


According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office, the tilapia cooking competition served as a venue for the TIFA members to showcase the adaptability of tilapia, an African freshwater species, as a culinary ingredient.


On the other hand, BFAR Post-Harvest Section personnel exhibited products made of tilapia including marinated tilanggit and tilapia longganisa.


In addition to the cooking competition, 30 TIFA members attending the tilapia gastronomy also got to undergo training on tilapia gourmet cooking conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry.


One of the most common fares on Filipino families’ dinner tables and a popular source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, tilapia is considered one of the country’s most commercially important fish species.


Tilapia farming in this town of 61,000, which hosts the Mt. Isarog Jungle Park, has grown by leaps and bounds.


In November 2023, TIFA received a livelihood package of P1,418,144 from the BFAR, including 80,000 tilapia fingerlings, as part of the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program.


In the maiden edition of the festival, TIFA made a partial harvest of 4,163 kilos of fresh tilapia and sold them at P120 a kilo to festival-goers.


According to BFAR Regional Director Ariel Pioquinto, tilapia production should be improved as increased attention to the commodity will drive up demand.


Lawyer Nilo Consuelo, the alternate focal of the SAAD project for the region, expressed his pride in the thriving tilapia industry of Tigaon that has managed to keep the price of fish affordable for the general public.


“The intensive campaign waged by the stakeholders will further increase the tilapia production in Tigaon in the coming years,” he said. (PIA5)


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