Tawi-Tawi, BARMM — The Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Science and Technology supported the sustainability of Mindanao State University – Tawi Tawi’s Research Projects on the Establishment of Seaweed R & D Center in the Bangsamoro region.

Last June 17, 2022, MOST Minister Aida Silongan, DOST Usec. Rowena Christina Guevarra for R & D, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) representatives, visited the seaweed research and development center in MSU – Tawi-Tawi.

During the project visit and monitoring activity, Dr. Sitti Zayda B. Halun, Program Leader and Prof. Karen B. Serag, Project Leader, presented the Seaweed R & D Center Projects entitled Project 1: Optimization of laboratory and land-based nursery culture technologies of Kappaphycus spp. and Eucheuma denticulatim, Project 2: Molecular characterization, selection, and production of Eucheumatoid cultivars in BARMM, Project 3: Optimization of post-harvest handling of Kappaphycus spp. and Eucheuma denticulatum.

The projects mentioned above aim to optimize seaweed harvest, post-harvest handling and practices to improve the quality of raw dried Kappapychus spp. and Eucheuma denticulatum produced in the Bangsamoro region, specifically in Tawi-Tawi.

In a statement, Minister Silongan committed to sustaining the support for seaweed farmers by providing technology intervention through the ministry’s technology transfer and commercialization program.

“I-susustain natin ang support sa mga seaweed farmers through our technology transfer and commercialization, eto ay para mas ma-capacitate pa sila sa pamamagitan ng technology training and good manufacturing practices,” Silongan said.

[We will sustain the support for seaweed framers through our technology transfer and commercialization to capacitate them through technology training and good manufacturing practices.]

Minister Silongan also shared information about MOST Research and Development Programs, such as the Call for Proposals, to benefit academic researchers.

“We have the Bangsamoro Harmonized Research and Development Agenda (BHRDA), and I am encouraging researchers here in the academe to submit proposals anchored to the priority areas of the agenda,” Minister added. Meanwhile, Usec. Christina Guevarra was glad of the fast and efficient undertakings of the project.

“Because of Dr. Halun nagkaroon tayo ng seaweed research center sa MSU – Tawi-Tawi at nakakabit agad ito sa seaweed farmers. The project hastened equipment procurement and was operationalized immediately.” Usec. Guevarra emphasized.

[Because of Dr. Halun, we have a research center in MSU – Tawi-Tawi that was established immediately for seaweed farmers. The project hastened equipment procurement and was operationalized immediately.]

She added that once seedlings were given to seaweed farmers, their profit would increase, and the community would benefit from this.

“Ang kita ng farmers natin ay mag-iincrease, magdodoble once mabigyan ng seedlings mula sa project ng MSU Tawi Tawi. Magkaroon ng value add sa seaweeds upang mas lumago pa ang seaweed industry sa Tawi-Tawi.” Usec. Guevarra added.

[The income of farmers will increase, doubled once seedlings are given to farmers coming from the project of MSU Tawi-Tawi. Provide value add on seaweeds to prosper seaweed industry in Tawi-Tawi.]

Furthermore, Dr. Halun was thankful for stakeholders’ support and collaborative efforts, especially the DOST-NICER, MOST, NEDA, and seaweed farmers in the activity. She also added that every tax of people counts and must be appropriately utilized for the benefit of the community.

The projects are expected to increase seaweed production by 15%, increase 35% the annual income of farmers by 2023, sustain the seaweed industry, and meet Philippine national quality standards for producing raw dried seaweeds.

The Mindanao State University – Tawi-Tawi’s Seaweed Research and Development Center (SeaRDeC) received a Php 57.1 million research grant from the Department of Science and Technology’s Science for Change – Niche Centers in the region (S4C-NICER). This program capacitates higher education institutions (HEIs) in the region through an institutional grant for R & D activities.

The SeaRDeC focused on increasing seaweed production, improving the quality of raw dried seaweeds to meet the Philippine National Quality Standards for raw dried seaweeds, and promoting a commercially sustainable cultivated seaweed industry in the BARMM region. It will also provide training for seaweed farmers, faculty, researchers, and students on laboratory and hatchery culture, farm management and post-harvest handling of seaweeds.