The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) gathered key stakeholders of the Philippine salt industry for a Round Table Discussion (RTD) on pressing issues and immediate concerns regarding domestic salt production and salt importation on November 3, 2022. 

Dr. Ulysses Montojo of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) presented the current status, issues, and challenges of the Philippine salt industry, which is currently threatened by climate change, urbanization in major salt-producing areas, and limited research and development studies on salt production.

As presented in the dialogue, local salt production also declined as cheaper industrial-grade salt flooded the market after the majority of small-scale producers ceased operations due to a lack of resources and skills to comply with the iodization requirements mandated by Republic Act No. 8172, otherwise known as the “ASIN Law”.

“Reclaiming the lost glory in salt sufficiency is a long-term objective that requires roadmap development, given the many challenges that lie ahead, as the environment today is extremely different compared to decades ago,” according to Dr. Montojo. 

In order to tap the country’s huge potential for expanding salt production, NFRDI is currently implementing the Development of Salt Industry Project (DISP), which would conduct a comprehensive profile of salt producers in the country, increase the production capacity of selected salt farms, and provide science-based information and policy recommendations for the salt industry. 

Updates on House Bill 1976 “Revitalizing the Salt Industry, Creating a Comprehensive Plan for Its Development, Providing Incentives to Salt Farmers and Exporters, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes” were also discussed, since a technical working group will be created to consolidate it with House Bill 5676, which seeks to define salt as an aquatic resource and establish a salt industry development program.

The attendees of the RTD then came up with a plan of activities to be undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, to include a national stakeholders’ consultation, which will be spearheaded by PCAF in cooperation with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the NFRDI.

According to Gherard Khonghun of the Philippine Association of Salt Industry Network or PhilASIN, with the right government support and by concentrating initiatives and budget allocation to areas with suitable climate for salt production, local salt production could be increased by 5%. | SMA