THE development of fish cage farming will take off after the proposal of the Department of Agriculture to use at least P3 billion of the P4 billion loan fund of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) has been approved.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez confimed to him the approval of the DA’s proposal and his support for the program.
Dominguez is also the chairman of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Piñol said the proposal to fund fish cage farming using the “sleeping” ACEF Loan Fund kept by LBP is part of the Agricultural Catch Up Plan submitted by the DA to the Economic Team.
Piñol said the proposal was made to help contribute to the country’s economic growth for 2019 but was affected by the delayed approval and utilisation of the 2019 National Budget, the suspension of public works activities because of the national elections and the damage caused by El Niño.
He added that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional directors have been tasked to submit proposals for the establishment of at least 300 large fish cages per region estimated to cost P1 million, including Bangus fingerlings, feeds and operational costs for 5 to 6 months until harvest.
“Fish cage farming has proven to be a capital intensive but highly profitable aquaculture project in the country today with operators earning profits as much as 100% on their investments,” Piñol explained.
He added that several self-financed fish cage owners have established farms in the many coves of the country and are now producing hundreds of tons of Bangus everyday which are tastier than the inland and fishpond Bangus.
In addition to the Bangus, fish cage operators have also practiced a system where they seed the fish cages with fingerlings of Danggit and Kitang, bottom dwelling species which clean up the feeds which are not consumed by the Bangus.