Agriculture dep't urged to develop Philippine seaweed manufacturing industry

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 19 2020 09:45 PM

A man harvests carrageenan in this undated photo uploaded on September 11, 2016. Photo from Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's website

MANILA - Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Monday urged the Department of Agriculture to develop the Philippines' seaweed manufacturing industry, citing the country's abundant supply of a profitable product worldwide.

While the Philippines supplies about 70 percent of carrageenan or red seaweed in the international market, the country only produces 4 percent of processed sea weed in the world, Pangilinan said during a budget hearing in the Senate.

"Malaki tayo sa raw. Mababa tayo sa processed. Pero 10 doble 'yung halaga nung processed," Pangilinan said.

(We are producing a lot of raw. But we do not produce a lot of the processed product, which is 10 times more valuable.)

"Kumbaga wala tayong value-added," he said.

(In other words, we do not have value-added.)

When processed, carrageenan can be used in dairy and meat products, pet food, air freshner gels, and toothpaste, according to a 2003 study from the University of New South Wales.

China supplies for 55 percent of the world demand for carrageenan, followed by Indonesia at 30 percent, data from the DA showed.

"Itong carrageenan, ginagamit 'yan sa lahat ng tabletas. Sa buong mundo, seaweed ang ginagamit diyan," Pangilinan said.

(Carrageenan is used in all capsules. In the whole world, they use seaweeds for that.)

If the DA can invest on the technology needed to process carrageenan, then the Philippines can tap into the supply chain of pharmaceutical giants worldwide, the senator said.

"Pinakamatindi ang ating supply ng carrageenan sa buong mundo," he said.

(Our supply of carrageenan is the most abundant in the whole world.)

"Our aquamarine resources are so resilient, if effectively managed, if hindi natin inaabuso... at inaalagaan natin nang husto (if we do not abuse it... and if we take good care of it)," he said.