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In 1995 the Philippines reached a remarkable GNP growth of 6.8%. In the same year, the island’s population reached 70.3 million with an annual growth rate of 2.4%. It is not surprising therefore that the country’s recent economic gains coupled with the high population growth is resulting in an unprecedented increase in the demand for food. Improving yield and efficiency in food production has thus become a national priority. Government programmes for augmenting agricultural output are outlined in the 1994-1998 Medium-Term Agricultural Development Programme (Section 2.8).

The Philippines has traditionally relied on its vast aquatic resources as an important source of protein. Filipinos, like many Asians, have a traditional preference for seafoods, with an average per caput consumption of 40 kg/y of fishery products as compared to only 16.9 kg/y for all other meats (National Food Research Institute - NARI, 1987).

Of the current supply of fishery products, 70% is harvested from the wild while 30% comes from aquaculture (Bureau of Agricultural Statistics - BAS, 1995a). In the last decade, fish production from capture fisheries has grown very little despite the increasing number of fishing boats covering more fishing ground and utilizing more efficient gears. Capture fisheries has evidently reached a point of unsustained growth, and productivity is likely to continue to decline as aggravated by widespread indiscriminate fishing activities, destruction of natural habitat, and pollution. In the years ahead, aquaculture will have to play the more important role in providing fishery products to the population.

Fish farming is a centuries-old local tradition in the Philippines. The country has well over 200,000 ha of fish ponds, pens and cages producing various species of fish and crustaceans. This expanse of area, however, was achieved through the destruction of most of the country’s mangrove resources. Recognizing the ecological value of mangrove forests, the Government is already against its further conversion into brackishwater fish ponds. Taking this into consideration, efforts to increase aquaculture production will have to come from pond intensification, and cage or pen farming in lakes, dams, inland waterways, and protected coastal areas. All of these culture systems, with a few exceptions (i.e. farming in eutrophic lakes) will require increasing the natural food supply with the use of feeds and/or fertilizers.

Agriculture shares the same challenge with aquaculture in increasing food supply and this is bringing about competition in the use of feeds (for poultry and livestock) and fertilizers (for farm crops). Since the early 1990s, there has been a recurrent shortage of major feedstuffs, particularly rice bran, yellow corn, soybean oil meal, and fishmeal. With the well established poultry and livestock industries continuing to expand at 6-8% annually, the aquaculture industry is finding it increasingly more difficult to source critical feed ingredients as well as certain fertilizers.

The future growth of the aquaculture industry will depend upon the availability of suitable and economical feed and fertilizer products. Information on the type, quality, quantity, seasonality, price, manufacturers, and suppliers of these resources will be important in determining the appropriate production strategy. To date, no such compilation of data exists. Moreover, information, when available, is tailored to the needs of the more dominant agricultural sector. For aquaculture to supply the population’s growing demand for food fish and to fill the declining yield from capture fisheries, basic but critical information should be made available.

This Atlas attempts at producing a comprehensive compilation of data and information on feed and fertilizer resources of the Philippines from various government and private organizations, including the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), Philippine Council for Agriculture Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños College of Agriculture.

In the preparation of this Atlas, efforts were made to verify and update information where more reliable sources were available. For the aquaculture feed industry, for which there is very little existing data, a survey was specifically conducted and interviews were made with leading industry proponents. It is common knowledge that many businesses avoid disclosing exact information for public use and this unfortunately is affecting government estimates and projections. The present author, having been involved in the aquafeed industry since 1988, has found his experience and acquaintances with the private sector valuable in the preparation of this manuscript.

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