Ibrahim Guiamadel, DTI Region 12 director, said the government-led Export Development Council (EDC) has recommended the allocation of at least P5.3 million to set up the laboratory, which would primarily cater to various tuna products.
He said EDC private sector representative Joji Ilagan-Bian disclosed during the National Tuna Expo here last week that the council already sought funding from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for the development of the facility.
Guiamadel said the establishment of the new fish control laboratory in the city is very important as it would address one of the long-time problems encountered by the tuna industry, which is one of the biggest export earners of the region.
He said the government currently requires all marine and aquaculture export products to undergo laboratory analysis and clearance from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as part of the export documentation procedures.
BFAR Region 12 has an existing laboratory in the city but it could not meet the demands of the local tuna industry, which exports fresh and chilled tuna, canned tuna and other tuna value-added products to various international markets.
Guiamadel said the existing facility lacks some vital equipment to complete the required quality analysis for tuna and other marine products by the export markets.
“There are no existing laboratories in the city or nearby areas that can handle the needs of our exporters. Most of them still go to Davao City just to complete the required laboratory tests,” he said.
Guiamadel said tuna and aquaculture industry players raised such issue during a focus group discussion conducted by the DTI in preparation for the localized national export congress (LNEC) in Region 12 last May 30.
He said identified issues were presented to concerned local agencies and eventually to the EDC for appropriate responses in the form of projects.
“This is one of the quick wins of LNEC,” Guimadel said in a statement.
According to a DTI report, the marine sector is among the top contributors to the region’s growing export trade and number one in terms of volume and value during the last nine years.
From 1997 to 2005, the DTI said the marine sector posted average earnings of US$166 million annually. Canned tuna recorded annual sales of US$122 million while the fresh and frozen tuna raked in US$27 million.