Did you know that experts have described seaweed farming as a key solution in battling climate change? It can sequester carbon on land and at sea, minimize livestock methane emissions, regenerate marine habitats, and enrich the soil.
The Philippines has been the third-largest producer of seaweed globally. A major area of seaweed production on the island of Luzon is the Bicol Region.
Caramoan is one of the most visited tourist spots in Bicol because of its beautiful beaches and is one of the largest producers of seaweeds in Luzon. It was also the filming location of many international “Survivor” TV Series.
Local fisherfolks’ have 3 main revenue streams: Fishing, Seaweed Farming, and Tourism. When the lockdown was implemented, all revenue streams were lost.
Fishing – They usually supply seafood to local hotels and restaurants. The Covid-19 Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown closed tourism in the area. This caused the fisherfolks to have very little market for their catch, and the seafood selling prices dropped in the area.
Tourism – They use their boats to ferry tourists around the islands. They also supply tourists with lunch on boats, buko, and other local crafts. With Tourism being closed down due to the pandemic, all of these sources of income were gone.
Seaweed Farming – This could have been the fisherfolks’ saving grace revenue. However, since the global production of carrageenan slowed down, it also affected the seaweed buying price. There was more available supply than the limited demand, which pulled the buying price down. To add insult to injury, in the last quarter of 2020, three (3) consecutive storms in 2 weeks hit the area. All of the fisherfolks’ seaweed seedlings were wiped out. At this point, they decided not to plant more seaweed for 2021, because they were already in too much debt. If none of the fisherfolks plant seaweed, it could mean the end of the Bicol Seaweed Industry.
With the help of Agrabah’s partner sponsors, (Enchong Dee, Project Smile, Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pirate Shack & Pechelito’s Resorts) and through coordination with the Caramoan LGU,
we launched the #SaveBicolSeaweedIndustry Campaign.
On March 3, 2021, Team AGRABAH went to Caramoan to provide farmers with seaweed seedlings and food kits for immediate relief.
The food kits were distributed to 100 seaweed farming families. The 7.5 tons of seaweed seedlings provided 25 seaweed farmers with 300kg per family to restart their seaweed farms.
With this initiative, we have supported 530 Individuals composed of PWD’s(1.89%), Seniors (4.53%), Minors (26%), and Able-bodied citizens (67.55%).
There are 500+ more seaweed farming family beneficiaries who need seedlings and farm implements (boats, ropes, and goggles).
These efforts were the first wave of relief. We are continuing to raise more donations and hope to do another wave of support soon.
More than short-term support, Agrabah is looking into the future. Team AGRABAH has been onboarding the farmers and fisherfolks of Caramoan, Camarines Sur into its online registry. The registry is integrated into Agrabah’s financial platform, which helps provide farmers with unique credit scoring, and access to different financing from AGRABAH’s partner financial institutions.
Access to different financial products allows farmers to expand their production, without being stuck in traditional debt traps. With more dignified options and more comprehensive information, farmers will not be obliged to sell their products at a low pre-negotiated price by traditional loan sharks.
All produce grown and delivered by Agrabah Registered Farmers will also be tagged for traceability. Agrabah’s new traceability features, make it is easier to identify the source of quality issues and helps Agrabah determine where to provide targeted capacity building for community improvement.
The traceability features will also allow AGRABAH to expand to export markets because it is required by European countries.
Through the support of #UNICEF #fintechforimpact and #ING, we can provide financial inclusion to our local farmers and fisherfolks.
If you wish to support the #SaveBicolSeaweedIndustry campaign, we are open to donations, both in cash and in-kind. Any help at this stage counts and will surely reach those who are currently in need the most.