By JUNE S. BLANCO
No more unfair competition. No more cartels.
Seaweeds farmers can now look forward to a brighter future after the House Committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization, and of Aquaculture and Fisheries Resources jointly approved a bill proposing the creation of the Philippine Seaweed Development Authority (PSDA).
Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2ndÂ District) who is a member of both committees said they have consolidated House Bills 1728 and 2007. He co-authored the final version set for deliberation on the plenary.
Aumentado announced the development to the Region 7 Seaweeds Growers and Farmers that metSeptember 11 at Chel-Annâ€™s Farm in Brgy. San Jose, Talibon town in northern Bohol. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) had sponsored the seaweeds growersâ€™ and farmersâ€™ quarterly meeting.
Once approved, he said this law will protect especially the small time growers or farmers from middlemen who extend to them loans that oblige them to sell their dried seaweeds at low prices.
Their respective incomes are then deducted amounts covering their loans with steep interest rates â€“ practically leaving them with the need to re-loan in order to meet their familiesâ€™ needs.
Adding to their woes is the cartel that buys all that the middlemen have bought from the growers and farmers. This means they have no choice but sell at low prices even for perfectly dried seaweeds because of their indebtedness to the middlemen.
The middlemen cannot offer higher prices either, because the cartel buys their stock at low prices too.
The dried seaweeds are processed into carrageenan that has extensive uses in the pharmaceutical (capsule casing), food (meat extenders), cosmetics and plastics industries.
Carrageenan is also found in toothpaste, and is what makes diapers and sanitary napkins absorbent.