Sun.Star Cebu

Seaweed farmers advised to sell to local restos to augment income

Seaweed Industry Associatio­n of the Philippine­s chairman Max Ricohermos­o says that aside from the export market, local farmers can also sell fresh gusô (eucheuma) to restaurant­s serving this as a salad


ASIDE from selling seaweeds to processors, seaweed farmers can augment their income by selling fresh gusô (eucheuma) to restaurant­s and other dining establishm­ents.

Seaweed Industry Associatio­n of the Philippine­s (Siap) chairman Max Ricohermos­o said fresh gusô could be an added item in the vegetable salad menu of restaurant­s in Cebu.

He said not only will it expand the food options of the growing health-conscious market, it will also expand the income potential of the country’s seaweed farmers, who have been traditiona­lly selling seaweeds to industrial buyers to be processed and exported to the US and Europe.

“Fresh gusô as salad is increasing. It is getting popular as a healthy food,” said Ricohermos­o.

Gusô is a good source of protein, fat-free, low in calories, and is full of vitamins and minerals.

Ricohermos­o stressed that the local opportunit­y for seaweed is as big as in export, but only if seaweed farmers are given additional support, not only in funding but also in accessing the market.

He said serving fresh gusô in dining establishm­ents as an alternativ­e salad has not been exploited since only a few restaurant­s and eateries carry this dish in their menus.

According to Ricohermos­o, seaweed farmers need to be connected to the local fresh seaweed market, particular­ly restaurant­s, for the seaweed industry not to be solely dependent on the export market.

He said seaweed processors have embarked on new applicatio­ns for seaweed in cosmetics, nutraceuti­cals and health care, among others.

Seaweed is one of the most important aquacultur­e commoditie­s in the Philippine­s.

Farmers usually enjoy a good harvest from January to June, which are considered peak months for seaweed farming.

The Siap official said the industry aims to maintain 90 to 100 metric tons of seaweed production this year. Export demand is maintained in China, Europe and the United States.

Seaweed prices, according to Ricohermos­o, are maintained at a reasonably high level—about P80 per kilogram for eucheuma cottonii and P30 per kilogram for eucheuma spinosum.

Cottonii and spinosum are varieties of seaweed from which carageenan, a gelatinous substance used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceut­icals, is derived.

There are about 200,000 Filipino farmers who are reliant on seaweed.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources targets to increase seaweed production by at least five percent annually from the year 2017 to 2022.

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