Seaweed noodles catching on in many places in PH, says agri deptBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Nutritious noodles made from seaweed are bringing new hope to poor families in Bicol and raising the incomes of seaweed farmers there, the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Department of Agriculture said Friday.
BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar said a project funded by his agency to process seaweed into noodles “has already practically spread all over the Philippines,” under the bureau’s Community-based Participatory Action Research program.
“It turned out that the program helped the men flourish in their seaweed farming, while the women started engaging in processing,” he said in a statement.
More than 300 farmers have benefited from the seaweed noodle project, which started in only two villages in the municipality of Pilar in Sorsogon, and spread to other coastal barangays including Dao, Binanwaan, San Rafael, and San Antonio.
Iloilo province has also shown interest after the program’s success in Bicol and is seeking training in noodle production, Eleazar said.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is now seeking accreditation by the Food and Drug Administration for a seaweed noodle manufacturing facility in the province.
“The manufacturing facility will mark as a big milestone for this seaweed noodle-producing community-based program funded by the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research,” said Aida Andayog, manager of BFAR-Regional Fisheries Research and Development Center in Region V.
“We can export the product once it’s FDA-approved,” she said.
Andayog said the main beneficiary would be the Tabaco Faith International Church (TFIC) Ladies’ Association, a group composed of 35 women from eight barangays in Tabaco City in Albay.
BAR has initially released P700,000 for the first phase of the project, which has an approved budget of P2 million, and it is expected to release P1.3 million more.
Eleazar said the bureau has been a consistent supporter of the seaweed industry as it is fit for growing in many coastal areas.
“The country has to take advantage of the fact that it is one of the world’s biggest seaweed producers in order to generate jobs particularly in coastal towns,” he said.
The country is one of the world’s biggest producers of seaweed and the semi-processed seaweed product, carrageenan.
As of 2003, raw dried seaweed export was at $15.07 million; refined carrageenan, $41.4 million, and semi-refined carrageenan, $87.1 million. In 2004 – 2005, it topped production of food-grade carrageenan, raw dried seaweed, and alkali-treated chips.
The Philippines has more than 100 species of seaweed with many industrial or pharmaceutical uses.
Seaweed is rich in iodine, an essential trace element for the body’s growth, removal of body toxins, and prevention of mental retardation, goiter and other diseases. It is also a source of protein, Vitamin A, and other micro nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
In the Tabaco facility, the seaweed is first turned into a puree, then six liters of the puree is mixed with 25 kilos of flour, and made into noodles. Shelf life is up to six months, but may go up to a year, depending on storage. No preservatives are used.
In Bicol, it is sold at only P40 for 500 grams and P80 for 1,000 grams.
“Many find it delicious by itself even if there aren’t lots of ingredients. And our noodles last a long time. You cook it now, and it won’t get spoiled until tomorrow,” said Andayog.
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