The Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) recently conducted a 10-day training on freshwater aquaculture as an alternative source of livelihood where 31 trainees completed modules and hands-on activities on the art of fish food processing, aquascaping and aquaponics.
In coordination with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 4A, the freshwater aquaculture training and graduation ceremony was held at the Villar SIPAG Farm School in Bacoor City, Cavite.
The training involved the identification of fish gender, cultivation and breeding of freshwater and ornamental fishes, proper feeding of the fish as well as food processing.
The lowly knife fish, which is the most affordable fish in the market today at P20 per kilo, took center stage as it was used as the base product in making siomai, kikiam, fish nuggets and fish patties.
The knife fish was accidentally introduced in Laguna de Bay when super typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines causing massive flash floods in many parts of the country.’
It was considered a pest as it eats tilapia and bangus which are the main commodities of Laguna de Bay, hence, causing a significant decline in the fishermen’s catch. The Knife fish is also known for its rapid production producing as much as 20,000 eggs.
BFAR had to come up with a strategy for the economic use of the knife fish and introduced it as a raw material in post-harvest. Recognizing the value of the knife fish by converting it into the Filipinos’ favorite finger foods such as siomai and nuggets, it provided decent meals on the table and also created a new source of livelihood for the fisherfolk.
“This training is very exciting for us as we convert what was once a problem into a real solution that creates additional revenue for our fisherfolk. Before they used to be saddled with the problem of having abundant knife fish preying on their milkfish and tilapia, but now with the technological intervention and research by the BFAR, the knife fish has been transformed into an income-generating product,” says Senator Cynthia Villar, Director of Villar SIPAG.
Aside from the additional knowledge in using knife fish, the graduates have been trained on the process of creating smoked and dried fish and Spanish sardines.
They were also taught aquascaping which is the art of designing aquariums and ponds as well as aquaponics , which is a new method of fish farming.