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Leyte aquapreneurs revive fish gourmet venture through SAAD

LEYTE, September 4, 2023 Bangus processing aquapreneurs from Leyte pick up group’s suspended bottled gourmet enterprise after receiving production assistance from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Special Area for Agricultural Development (BFAR-SAAD) Program  Phase 2 and are now rejoining fairs to feature their processed fish products.

Four (4) months after its inclusion in the BFAR-SAAD Program, the Balud Producers and Marketing Vendors Association (BPMVA) revived its established bangus bottled gourmet enterprise earning Php 6,090 after being featured in the Kadiwa Ha Barugo from May 15-18, 2023.

The BPMVA are residents of Capoocan, Leyte, a 4th class municipality with 25 FishR (Fisherfolk Registration) – enlisted fisherfolk members. The association was formerly a beneficiary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (YRRP). The agency provided a fish processing facility, smokehouse, and a dryer (9 meters x 3.8 meters) and training in smoked fish production. Through this, they were able to establish a smoked fish business in 2022. 

However, after 6 months of operation, due to financial constraints, lack of capital to sustain, and limited market presence, their business had to be temporarily halted. Nevertheless, their determination to succeed led them to the inclusion in the SAAD Program. With the unwavering support of the Provincial Fishery Office (PFO) in Leyte, and in coordination with the Municipal Agriculture’s Office of Capoocan, the association was endorsed as the beneficiary of Fish Processing Technology funded under FY 2023 by the BFAR-SAAD Program Phase 2. 

BFAR-SAAD Phase 2 project implementation

In 2023, after BFAR-SAAD scored a budget to continue its operations after the conclusion of assistance for fisherfolk in 2021, BPMVA was among the selected fisherfolk groups for SAAD Phase 2 implementation. 

The group attended various activities under the program’s social preparation component such as the Beneficiary Needs Assessment (BNA), Gender and Development (GAD) activity, SAAD project orientation and information campaign, values formation, leadership, team building, stress management, and Training on Simple Bookkeeping and Basic Accounting with Fundamentals on Cooperative Movement. To sustain the fish operation, training on Fish Processing Technology was also provided by BFAR-SAAD Region 8.

Currently, the association purchases milkfish and other seafood from nearby towns, specifically Carigara and Leyte, using their own funds from their own pocket. Each member contributes financially regardless of the individual sum to acquire the necessary ingredients and materials. They aim to increase their profits and improve their business through this approach.

For Phase 2, the FA will receive a fish processing technology project this year. Interventions include the provision of vacuum sealers and other necessary accessories. Under its regular program, the bureau will also be giving fishery products to the association worth Php 98,000 for their initial production. 

Concerted efforts of the bureau, local government unit, and the fisherfolk-beneficiary, BPMVA successfully launched their fish products such as gourmet fish tuyo, gourmet bangus, and gourmet bangus belly during the Kadiwa Ha Barugo fair. The three-day seafood market activity showcased the products to customers from the locals and even nearby municipalities who visited their booth. Positive reviews and revenue poured in after taste tests, recording a total of Php 6,090 sales after the activity.

“We are grateful for the valuable training provided by the SAAD Program. We acquired the skills and knowledge needed so that we can diversify our processed fish products,” shared association member, Mrs. Rosenda Pingal.

To ensure quality control and assist the association in making informed decisions regarding raw materials, ingredients, additives, storage and packaging conditions, expiration dates, and product optimization, the Bureau plans to conduct a Sensory Evaluation in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) within the region later this year. This initiative aims to strengthen the implementation of the program and highlight the collective effort to drive innovation and sustainable growth through organizing a taste-testing event of the FA’s product. Representatives from DTI and DOST will also be invited to help evaluate and ensure quality control of the processed fish gourmet.

“We don’t want to waste this opportunity and we don’t want to fail again. We are very much interested to learn more. I also hope that our association will become known all over the region,” shared Mrs. Pingal.

For this year, the FA prioritized fish processing technology, leveraging expertise in the operation. After they underwent training in fish processing, they realized that they cut more of their production cost if they had milkfish cages, eliminating the need to purchase milkfish from neighboring towns thus making their gourmet products more cost-effective and competitive in the market. 

Writer: Shanly A. Salahid, BFAR-SAAD CDO  8
Photos: Jason Jon Mandreza, BFAR-SAAD 8 IT

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Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program Online ISSN: 2718-9791
Published by the SAAD National Program Management Office Editorial Board

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