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Seaweed Farming (Bien Unido, Bohol)
Bien Unido is a coastal municipality endowed with a vast marine area traversed by island barangays, which offer a bright potential and favorable condition for sustainable seaweed (guzo) farming. It is a fact that presence of various species of seaweeds are characterized in many areas considering it is located along the Danajon Double Barrier Reef, commonly called Danajon Bank, and the only double barrier reef in Asia. The seaweeds industry in the area is very promising, with Bien Unido being known as the top seaweeds-producing municipality in Bohol and in Region VII.
Local Government Units (LGUs), National Government Agencies (NGAs), and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs are also very instrumental in assisting the Bien Unido Municipal Local Government Unit (MLGU) especially in the financial and technical aspects of its project implementation, such as the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).
Some of the major accomplishments and impact experienced through the project are:
- Increase in local revenue
- Employment generation
- Increase in economic activities in the area
- Improvement of the standard of living of local farmers
- Increase in income
- Decrease in the number of out-of-school youths
- Increase in awareness on gender and development especially for women
Though the seaweed industry has been doing well for more than four decades now, not so long ago, majority of the fisherfolk in the area did not directly own or benefited from the industry due to poor access to capital, sustainable market support and linkages.
Most of the time, these poor growers resorted to unscrupulous money lenders for their capital; however, the interest they paid to the money lenders ate almost 75% of their profit from seaweed farming. This vicious cycle went on ad infinitum which made the poor fishfarmers even poorer.
It is in this context that the municipal government of Bien Unido and other institutions decided to address the problem by engaging in an economic enterprise by extending capitals to qualified seaweed farmers. Massive community organizing was conducted through peoples’ organizations and continuing the identification of suitable areas for additional seaweeds farm sites.
The MLGU of Bien Unido is also currently addressing the marketing aspect of this important product, being part of the ”One Town One Product or OTOP” of the Municipality, and to assure that this will not be monopolized by unscrupulous traders. At the same time, it is also trying to establish permanent and strong market linkages for this dollar-earning commodity.
Generally, the project provided supplemental and alternative source of income through seaweeds production and assisted the small players in institutionalizing market linkages for sustainable development, This reduced the poverty incidence based on the poverty threshold data from the Provincial Planning and Development Office and provided basis for developing strategies for the income upliftment of the populace of Bien-Unido and Bohol Province as a whole.
Specifically, the project aims to (a) uplift the living standard of marginalized seaweed farmers, People’s Organizations (POs) members and the community, (b) make available capital assistance to all qualified seaweed farmers, members and the community, (c) help the LGUs increase their local revenue, thus, improve government services to the whole populace, and (d) decrease the number of families living below the income threshold and food threshold.