Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. (RP Energy) has partnered with the private and public sectors for a Seaweed Farming Project that will benefit two barangays in Subic, Zambales.
A memorandum of understanding with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 3, fisherfolk group Subic Bay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Fisherfolk Association (SBIFARMFA), and Farm Capital Corporation, the company behind the brand Weedera, was signed last May 19 for this undertaking.
The collaboration involves the set-up of two pilot seaweed nurseries in Barangay Cawag and Barangay Matain in Subic. These nurseries will later expand into seaweed farms.
RP Energy facilitated the establishment of the seaweed nurseries. The company is also responsible for the social preparation and coordination with the two beneficiary organizations of the project, which are identified as the Parola Fisherfolk Neighborhood Association (PAFNA), and Samahan at Ugnayan ng Mangingisda sa Matain (SUMAMA) of Subic.
Meanwhile, SBIFARMA and Weedera, worked together and surveyed possible locations for the pilot nurseries. BFAR, for its part, will be in charge of monitoring, technical assistance, and training to the beneficiary groups for this project.
Weedera, which currently exports seaweeds to various countries like Japan, China and Taiwan, will be the one to buy the seaweeds from the organizations at competitive prices.
“This project is very promising, as we have started with the market of the product — something that is usually last to be figured out in other livelihood projects,” acoording to Litz Manuel-Santana, VP and Head of External Affairs of Meralco PowerGen, the majority owner of RP Energy.
Having an identified off-taker of the produce ensures the sustainability and profitability of the livelihood project that is intended to help the organizations in Subic.
“Our aim is to develop a market-based livelihood program for our beneficiaries and so we partnered with Weedera, a private corporation based in Iloilo, who will be buying all the produce,” according to Jason Gavina, CSR Officer of RP Energy.
“This is complemented by the technical know-how of our BFAR experts who will assist the groups in setting up the nurseries,” he added.
Weedera President Neil Huele, for his part, said: “Seaweed has huge demand especially in Taiwan, China, and Japan. In fact, unknown to many, the Philippines is the third largest producer of seaweed in the world. There is still very huge potential.”
To formally jumpstart activities under this collaboration, the launch of the seaweed farms and a community training was held last May 22.
BFAR trained the community members on how to create the net and install the seedlings properly. They were also oriented on how to maintain the seaweed farms to avoid grazing of fish and ensure quality harvest. The group will harvest their first batch of seaweeds after 45 days from planting.
The Seaweed Farming Project joins the many social development programs and corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects being implemented by RP Energy for the communities in Subic.
Based on the social benchmarking study conducted by the company, there is a need for an alternative livelihood for the low-income fishing communities neighboring the RP Energy site. The Subic Bay itself is overfished, and the income from fish harvest can be very seasonal.
“In our CSR, we always aim to achieve both impact and sustainability. We are very happy to have the support of BFAR, Weedera and SBIFARMFA for this project and we hope that this partnership continues long term,” said RP Energy President Angelito Lantin.
RP Energy is the developer of a 2×300 MW coal-fired power plant in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.