Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, in her keynote speech during the opening ceremony of the event, recognised that the shrimp aquaculture industry of the Philippines is continuously growing and provides huge income to the country, as well as providing jobs and food security.
“The Philippine shrimp industry has been successfully exporting to the strict Japanese market. The Philippines is an archipelagic country and it can go a long way in developing its municipal waters and aquaculture farms,” she said.
“There might be a lot of challenges in the industry during the pandemic but the government, the research institution, and the industry players, and local fishermen and shrimp farmers must focus on establishing a partnership and support system for the industry to thrive,” she added.
Villar also emphasised the importance of collaboration and being competitive. “The government policy should be supportive of the shrimp industry for it to flourish. This can only be achieved when stakeholders talk to each other, draft their suggestions to (the) government and for the people from BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) to listen, analyse, and synthesise these suggestions for the benefit of the industry as a whole. The Philippines should look at the models of India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia in their successful shrimp industry and learn from them as well,” she said.
The 13th Philippine Shrimp Congress brought together shrimp producers, hatcheries, feed millers, exporters, suppliers, experts, and institutions promoting and supporting the growth of the shrimp industry in the country.
“These are once every two years’ time for the industry to get together to rekindle spirits, friendships, learn new things, explore possibilities, and work together for the future,” said this year’s Congress chairperson, Norberto O Chingcuanco.
Chingcuanco also emphasised that sustainable and environment-conscious growth of the shrimp industry is vital for it to be able to continuously contribute to national food security and economic growth.
“When it comes to economic growth, we are especially talking about livelihood opportunities that the shrimp industry creates even to the remote areas of the country. The industry has also reached the level of awareness that we need to take care of our environment as our livelihood relies on the quality and sanitation of our environment,” he said.
This year’s Shrimp Congress aimed to provide a virtual platform to exchange ideas, updates, strengthen networks, meet partners, open markets, and learn from people with a wide range of experience and expertise. It carried the theme, “Philippine Shrimp Industry: Its Paradigm Shift to Sustainable New Normal.”
Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Chery Marie Natividad-Caballero also recognised the economic contribution of the shrimp industry as one of the major commodities of the country – as the Philippines has been ranked the fourth top producer of shrimp in Southeast Asia and the eighth in the world.
“Monodon-producing provinces are Pampanga, Lanao del Norte, Camarines Norte, Pangasinan, and Misamis Occidental. We look forward to strengthening more government partnerships with you, particularly those in the private sector, to level up the production and help you achieve a more competitive status in your businesses, as we aim to also provide similar support to the improvement of the vannamei in Sarangani, Cebu, Zambales, Cagayan, and Bohol, and other emerging areas,” she explained.
For his part, DA-BFAR national director, Eduardo Gongona, during a virtual press briefing at the sidelines of the event, emphasised the agency’s support to the shrimp industry.
“We reiterate our support to the industry. We assure the industry that the government will continue to extend all the necessary interventions to scale up the shrimp industry and our goal has always been focused on sustainable growth and inclusive progress of the fisheries sector,” he said.
Other officials who attended the opening ceremony of the said event were Roberto O Gatuslao, president of PHILSHRIMP & NPPC; Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos “Sonny” G Dominguez III; Undersecretary Mercedita A Sombilla, National Economic and Development Authority- Regional Development Group; and Wilfrido Mark M Enverga, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food House of Representatives.