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In October 2021, the Philippines was hit by severe Tropical Storm Maring (international name Kompasu), which brought heavy rains, strong winds and landslides in several provinces in Luzon.

Unfortunately, La Union was one of the provinces that were devastated. Many milkfish farm owners were greatly affected, including that of Charito Normington.

Normington was a beneficiary of the project, “Enhancing the Agri-Aqua Food Value Chain (FVC) through Smart Technologies and Partnerships towards Food Resiliency in the New Normal in Region 1,” that was implemented by the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU).

The project was funded and monitored by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

Milkfish is the second-most predominant aquaculture commodity in the Philippines, contributing a significant volume to fish production.

In the first half of 2021, Region 1 contributed around 26 percent to the national milkfish production, with Pangasinan and La Union as major producers.

However, there are several constraints in the milkfish value chain in the region that the DMMMSU-FVC project would like to address.

Specifically, the FVC team aims to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of milkfish being produced by the growers of La Union.

This is provided through technical support like training and one-on-one mentoring sessions with aquaculture experts to solve the lack of necessary skills and knowledge in cultural and pond management operations.

The project also conducts quick assessments of the fish farms to evaluate the needs and identify the applicable technologies that can be adopted by the growers to achieve maximum farm efficiency.

In addition, they also provide subsidies for inputs like fingerlings, fertilizers and feeds.

Trainings on milkfish product development and promotion-related activities are done through the DOST-PCAARRD-DMMMSU Agri-Aqua Technology Business Incubator, along with marketing assistance to assist the growers in selling their produce at a fair price.

Normington, a project beneficiary since 2021, owns CMB Fish Farm, covering a total of 13,630 square meters of ponds for milkfish in Ubagan, Sto Tomas, La Union. Her farm was evaluated by DMMMSU while she underwent training and mentorship.

In August 2021, CMB Fish Farm was stocked with fingerlings. Unfortunately, typhoon Maring hit La Union two months later, which caused her ponds to overflow and washed away 11,577 out of 13,200 stocked milkfish fingerlings.

The remaining 1,623 fingerlings were then harvested in January 2022, five months after stocking. Sold for P140 a kilo, she still had a profit of P6,064, which she had reinvested to produce Siganid, a highly valued aquatic species, which can be poly-cultured with milkfish.

Since approximately 90 percent of her fish farm’s stocked fingerlings were damaged, the FVC team of DMMMSU started replenishing Normington’s fish farm and those of other beneficiaries with milkfish fingerlings early this year to help them recover from the impact of typhoon Maring.

With these initiatives, the FVC program has been helping fisherfolk attain a sustainable milkfish food value chain in the region through technical and market linkage assistance to milkfish farmers.

It also aspires to develop the local communities’ ability to endure, adapt to, and recover from various adversities through S&T interventions.

Image credits: DMMMSU