Dagupan Seafood Processing Plant for service, not for profit

November 9, 2011 10:38 pm 

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, Nov. 9 — The P100 million Seafood Processing Plant in Barangay Bonuan Binloc here is not for profit but for service, like research, training and extension and to help improve the quality of processed products being exported abroad and for sale in the local market.

This was stressed Monday by Dr. Westly Rosario, interim manager of the processing plant, when he spoke as resource speaker before the Sangguniang Panlungsod another outside session this time in Barangay Bonuan Binloc, where the seafood processing plant is located.

Rosario said this was indicated in the formal proposal he and former Dagupan City Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. submitted in 2008 to the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) which approved the P100 million financial grant for the construction of the project.

BFAR and the Dagupan City government co-own the project. However, in 2007 former Mayor Fernandez entered a memorandum of agreement with BFAR for the latter to manage it solely for five years.

Rosario, chief of the BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center (NITDC), said before the plant stopped operation last Oct. 8, the facility was charging a minimal fee from exporters using the facility.

The exporters were also in charge of paying the wages of from 800 to 100 workers the NIFTDC earlier trained, who were harnessed in processing their products.

The service fee paid by exporters, he said, are receipted by his office and goes directly into the coffer of the national government.

According to Rosario, the facility is expected to lose from first to third year and will be lucky if it could break even after the third year because it is really service oriented.

Inaugurated in January this year, the plant was actually still undergoing its test run when the Dagupan City government, now under Mayor Benjamin Lim, wrote the BFAR central office on the need for the plant to first secure a business permit.

Rosario said the BFAR sent a memorandum to him to stop plant operation till after they can secure a business permit but before the city can grant one, the plant must comply with certain requirements.

He said that so far, they have complied with all the needed requirements, except a clearance from the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), whose representatives have yet to come and inspect the plant while the same is running or in actual operation.

Rosario learned that no less than the One-Stop-Shop of Dagupan City has “no basis” in taxing the processing plant but nevertheless required the plant to get “blue cards” to its workers, attesting that they have undergone physical examination from a government physician.

He deemed that the One-Stop Shop of the Dagupan City government considered his (Rosario’s) position that the processing plant is not for profit but for service.

Given this opinion, Rosario believes it is not a business permit that they really needs but a license from BFAD, a co-equal government agency, which they are now securing to ensure the resumption of plant operation before the end of November.

Although state-of-the-art, the processing plant built with the help of the Korean government, is just a small facility whose maximum capacity is five metric tons of fish a day only, as compared to other existing fish processing plant in some parts of the country which can process from 50 to 200 metric tons a day.

Rosario told the SP that this kind of fish processing plant has been a long dreamed facility not only in Dagupan but in all other regions of the country because this is their only hope to improve the bangus industry and makes them one step ahead than other bangus producing areas in the country.

Stressing that the plant could be a vital cog in improving the milkfish production in Dagupan, Rosario believes the facility could revolutionize the processing of seafood products that are being exported abroad for the benefit of exporters, producers and their workers.

He observed that the present method of processing, mostly done manually, is not attuned with hygienic and sanitation standards required by the export market.

Even backyard producers can use the facility if they intend to export their product, adding that backyard producers will not pass the high standards imposed by other countries as to hygiene and sanitation.

On research, Rosario said, the plant can encourage development research in order to find other products, aside from de-boned fish, that can be brought for export.

Other seafood products that can be processed included oysters, pampano, shrimps and crabs.

He said the plant can be used to train backyard processors and a pool of skilled workers that can be later exported abroad with the help of the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) since many countries today are looking for trained de-boners and fish processors. (PNA)

DCT/FFC/LVM/rma

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