The tilapia extra challenge!

The tilapia extra challenge!


Basilio “Jiji” Rodriguez, Jr., president of the three-year- old Philippine Tilapia, Inc. (PTI) says that just like any other maturing agricultural enterprise, the whole tilapia industry is at crossroads. “If we don’t get our act together, the industry can continue to be the way it is but it will not grow or it may go the chicken industry route which seems to be going nowhere.”

Since its inception, PTI, together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), has aimed to launch a tilapia master plan or a road map for the continuous development of the industry. By 2010, the industry is targeting an annual production of 250,000 MT (as compared to 2004’s 145,000 MT) and annual exports of 50,000 MT. Experts and observers say those are ambitious but realizable targets and could only be achieved if the challenges facing the tilapia industry are properly addressed.

After enjoying years of heady growth, there is a current glut of tilapia in the market. And with only Manila absorbing a majority of the supply of tilapia coming from Central and Southern Luzon, tilapia farmers have started to complain about the unstable prices of their produce, the escalating cost of feeds and other farm inputs and the limited availability of credit.

“Tilapia has now dethroned galunggong in the market,” says James Aso, marketing manager of HOC P0 feeds, a Filipino-owned company with Taiwanese stockholders. “This happens because of the enormous supply of tilapia and there’s basically just the Manila market to cater to, so prices remain low.”

In the year 2000, records show the Philippines ranked number four in terms of tilapia production. China tops the list producing six or more times the total tilapia Philippine production. This was followed by Egypt and Mexico. “We have to bear in mind that tilapia has been an increasingly popular product,” explains Rodriguez, “many countries have expanded their production very aggressively so I wouldn’t really know if we’re still number four. But we’re probably still on the top list.” Continue reading “The tilapia extra challenge!”