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Thursday, 21 March 2024 05:16

Hopes in seaweeds for Sama community in Tawi-Tawi, Bangsamoro Region

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March 12, 2024. In the distant community of Barangay Buan, Panglima Sugala in Tawi-Tawi, Bangsamoro Region, are the Sama people who lives along the seashores in this island province.

At the young age, a Sama child is being trained and exposed to the sea for fishing and for farming activities, a primary source of living for the people in this coastal village.

Alrashel Julaid, 43, is born to a family and community of seaweeds farming. He was young when his father was bringing him to the sea.

Being by the or in the sea is popular identity to the Sama people. It is their home where they are born and raised.

Alrashel grows seaweeds to sustain his family of seven. Their two children are in college taking education course.

Similar to all other fathers, he wish for his kids to complete studies as their key to success in life.

His wife takes mostly of the reproductive role with the younger kids at home.

Basic social services in Brgy. Buan

Brgy. Buan is home to thousands of families who are Sama and lives by the faith based on Islam religion.

Despite the distance from the mainland and the center of development in the Tawi-Tawi province, the barangay has available services for its people such as basic and secondary schools, justice hall, water system project, and a health facility.

Families in the village are beneficiaries of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) through the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD-BARMM). Elderlies also received assistance from the senior citizens program of the government.

However, all these require for upgrading and further support towards improved services to the people.

For instance on education, youth who wishes to pursue college needs to move in Bongao (the center of Tawi-Tawi Province), since there is no higher education institution established in rural areas of Tawi-Tawi. And for most families, sending their kids from the island to mainland Bongao requires bigger financial responsibility for allowance, accommodation, transportation, meals, school fees, etc.

In this case that many of the aspiring youths could not make it to education, like Alshayma Juhang, 40, who only reached second year level in college and opted to went back home to Brgy. Buan where she married and build a family.

She helps her husband does seaweed farming for their family of five.

As their source of living, seaweed farming is like a whole day of going to a regular job. Everyday after breakfast, her husband leaves to go farming and to catch fish, too and other sea foods, which they sell for income.

At home, Alshayma would prepare some local dishes that she vends into the neighborhood for little sales, helpful for the family’s daily sustenance.

Seaweeds farming in the community

On January 31, 2024, a simple dialogue between farmers and fisherfolks of Brgy. Buan and the government institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR Tawi-Tawi Provincial Office) and Mindanao State University (MSU- Tawi-Tawi) happened particularly in Sitio Biha of the said village.

Both parties were able to expressed and report their concerns related to aquaculture practices in this island community.

Among the concerns raised was the use of fertilizer for seaweeds farming, which according to MAFAR and MSU Tawi-Tawi is not encouraged due to its potential harmful effects to human health and the environment.

The farmers conveyed that they are using fertilizers for rapid growth and harvest of seaweeds, and therefore a rapid income to provide for their families. 

Both parties acknowledged each struggle and agreed to work on unified actions to resolve such realities on aquaculture in this island village, and help advance the economic conditions for the entire community.

Also reported by the farmers and fisherfolks was the prizing of seaweeds as dictated by traders e.g., from P140.00 to P45.00.

The group likewise appeals for the the high price of seaweed seedlings that they needed to begin their farming.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) through the project: "Building Resilient Livelihoods and Communities through Climate-Smart Aquaculture Value Chain in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu Archipelago” under the program “Strengthening the implementation of regional and local peace and development agendas in Mindanao (SPADe) has been conducting a baseline study related to aquaculture in the Bangsamoro Region.

It focuses on seaweeds farming in Brgy. Buan, Panglima Suga in Tawi-Tawi and on lobster fishing in Brgy. Sucuban, Omar, Sulu.

The project is co-funded by European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) implemented by German International Cooperation (GIZ).

Support from the project 

The project has various plans to aid the beneficiaries advance their aquaculture practices like trainings to educate them the modern, environmental and practical manner of growing, harvesting and marketing their products.

This action also comes with an infrastructure development. On January 31, 2024, the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of seaweeds dryer with mini solar dryer has been successfully conducted in Brgy. Buan through the support of partners from MAFAR Tawi-Tawi and MSU Tawi-Tawi.

The construction of lobster aquaculture facility in Brgy. Sucuban has also been started, which groundbreaking ceremony was attended by partners from BARMM through its Sulu Provincial Offices like the MAFAR and Cooperative and Social Enterprise Authority (CSEA), MSU- Sulu and the Philippine Army. 

At present, BDA Inc. is managing the procurement of required building materials for the said infra projects through its field staff in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.


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