Heeding the call to address the challenges and gaps in the country’s salt industry and production, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) shares its contribution and formally launches the Development of Salt Industry Project (DSIP) on Friday, March 10 in Dasol, Pangasinan.

Dubbed as Oplan Asin with the branding theme, “Pasiglahin, Sariling Ating Asin!,” this project which started implementation in 2022, in collaboration with the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), aims to increase local production of excellent quality salt in the country through the enhancement of processes and improvement of practices on salt production, while balancing the requirement for food safety standards and industrial uses.

“With Oplan Asin, we will prioritize intervention to our existing salt producers and revive the inactive ones by helping them comply with the market requirements. This is in our bid to ensure sustainable salt production and livelihood of our salt farmers, and ultimately, attain national salt self-sufficiency,” said DA-BFAR Director Atty. Demosthenes Escoto.

With a funding of PhP 100 million in the first year of implementation, various production-related and research and development activities were successfully implemented in select major salt-producing regions through the BFAR Regional Fisheries Offices (RFOs) 1, 6, and 9. To date, the Bureau has already provided fishery on-farm equipment and post-harvest facilities, upgraded storage units and warehouse facilities, training and capacity building workshops, and technology demonstrations among the participating regions. These interventions shall continue in 2023 with an expanded scope through the allotment and downloading of another PhP 100 million to seven DA-BFAR regional offices that now include BFAR RFOs 3, 4A, 4B, and 7. In a recorded video message, Senator Cynthia Villar, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, commended the DA-BFAR for the initiative as she stressed that, “salt production is very economical and sustainable if given the chance to grow.” Adding that she is currently “writing a law that will help revive the industry by making iodization optional to the manufacturers.” To aid in the lawmaking process and as one of the pre-launching activities, a consultation dialogue with Dasol salt farmers was led by the offices of Senator Villar and Senator Nancy Binay, Dasol local government, and the DA-BFAR, to tackle the needs of the industry such as market linkages, more on-farm and post-harvest equipment, social security of salt farmers, among others, and gather inputs and suggestions for the amendment of Republic Act 8172 or the ASIN Law which was passed in 1995.

Besides the launching program and the consultation dialogue, the DA-BFAR also conducted a tour of a salt farm in Dasol and demonstration of traditional salt-making methods such as cooking and solar drying.