Fishing in Lingayen Gulf, a major fishing ground in the Philippines, reached its maximum sustainable yield more than 20 years ago, and the region now has four times the optimum effort for the available fish stocks. Currently, catch rates are only 20% of what they were 15 years ago.
By MARVYN N BENANING
ELEVEN state universities and colleges (SUCs) have been tapped to disseminate postharvest and mechanization technologies through knowledge packages under an agreement they signed with the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).
The SUCs are Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Benguet State University, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Pampanga Agriculture College, CamNorte State College, Bicol University, Bataan Peninsula State University, Aklan State University, Central Mindanao University, Misamis Oriental State College of Agriculture and Technology and the University of Southeastern Philippines.
According to PhilMech Executive Director Rex Bingabing, PhilMech’s partnership with the SUCs will boost the agency’s information drive since these institutions have their own extension offices and even do agriculture-related research and development (R&D).
“The SUCs also have capable field extension personnel who can be trained to educate farmers on post-harvest and mechanization,” Bingabing said.
“Eventually, what PhilMech wants to do is reach out to more farmers and commercialize and [distribute] mature technologies on postharvest and mechanization,” he added.
The agreement also stipulates the development and enhancement of the capabilities of postharvest and mechanization experts at the SUCs; the establishment of technology-demonstration centers; the creation a post-harvest and mechanization section in each institution’s extension-service arm; and the provision of farm and business-advisory services to farmers’ groups, entrepreneurs, processors, traders, millers and other interested stakeholders.
Bingabing said the SUCs are also mandated to undertake R&D activities in collaboration with various government agencies and do extension work to help create livelihood opportunities.
The extension work usually involves the distribution of farming technologies and the development of entrepreneurial skills and training programs.
Several SUCs host research centers that are exclusively devoted to certain agriculture commodities.
PhilMech’s partnership with the SUCs was an offshoot of a recent seminar-workshop on information, technology and assessment of training needs on post-harvest and mechanization that was held at the PhilMech headquarters in the CLSU in Muñoz City, Nueva Ecija province.
The seminar was attended by representatives and officials of various SUCs.
Bingabing said the SUCs would also gain from its partnership with PhilMech since personnel from these institutions will learn more about postharvest and mechanization from the agency.
“It is also very important that students taking up agriculture in SUCs appreciate and learn more about the importance of mechanization and postharvest in modernizing the Philippine agriculture sector,” he added.
Production from small-scale and commercial fishing has declined significantly in the Philippines in recent years due to diminishing productivity, depletion of fish stocks, degradation of fisheries habitats, inefficient post-harvest practices and higher fuel costs. This has resulted in large numbers of disadvantaged people working on an increasingly declining resource base, making the fisheries sector a significant concern both economically and socially.