GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Sept) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has allocated around P450 million for the acquisition by next year of two refrigerated vessels.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol announced here on Thursday that they have finalized the plans for the purchase of the vessels, which will be utilized to ferry various agricultural products from parts of the country to major markets.
“You can use it to bring your tuna here even from Tawi-Tawi and Sulu,” he said in his keynote speech at the opening of the 20th National Tuna Congress.
Pinol was referring to tuna catches of local fishing companies operating in the seas off Sulu and nearby fishing grounds.
Dubbed “food boats,” he said the vessels may also be utilized to carry fruits, vegetables and other farm commodities.
He said the vessels will be equipped with refrigerated container vans and other facilities necessary for the transport of fish products and other perishable goods.
As additional support to the fishing industry, he said DA will roll out starting next year the establishment of ice-making plants in parts of the country.
He said they have identified at least 47 areas near fishing grounds as beneficiaries.
Pinol moved for the purchase of the “food boats” in November last year and later pushed for an initial allocation of around P270 million.
He earlier said they are targeting to conduct the bidding process next year and deploy the vessels by mid-2020.
Pinol pushed for the acquisition of the “food boats” to partly address the high shipment cost for products coming from Mindanao that are bound for major markets like Metro Manila.
Tuna industry players here have been reeling over the high domestic shipping and freight costs, which was based on the provisions Republic Act 1937 or the Cabotage Law.
The Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc. had passed a resolution requesting the government to rationalize the cabotage provisions and related issuances move for the reduction of shipping, freight and transportation costs to enhance the viability of domestic trading. (MindaNews)