TACLOBAN CITY – ‘Tahong’ growers in Jiabong, Samar are enjoying brisk sales of their products, thanks to the assistance they received from the government.

Oscar Acotin, Maligaya Agri-Business Association (MABA) president in Jiabong, Samar shows the tahong they harvested from the long-line technology provided by DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD)

The tahong or green mussels vendors would no longer worry whenever there is an advisory issued by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of a red tide along Maqueda Bay or Irong-irong Bay, where they grow and harvest this marine product.

Oscar Acotin, president of the Maligaya Agri-Business Association(Maba), a group of tahong growers, said that they are happy that they received assistance from the government as this resulted to increase of their income as they were able to produce food items using tahong as the main ingredient.

He narrated that prior to the intervention by the government, they rely solely on selling tahong and whenever there is a red tide advisory, their income dropped drastically.
MABA, with 42 members, was organized in 2012 as a prerequisite for the government to provide additional assistance like livelihood supports to farmers and fisherfolks.
They started to produce processed tahong in 2018.

Acotin is thankful that they are now producing processed tahong that they sell at higher prices allowing them to have a bigger income.

These products include tahong and shrimp sticks and crackers, and bottled tahong in different flavors such as adobo, adobo sa gata, escabeche, and bopis.
On January 2018, initial materials and equipment were delivered to the association to start the production of the processed tahong.

Various national government agencies and non-government organizations assisted the group to improve their product and production.

Among them was the International Fund for Agricultural Development which help the group in funding their processing area thru the Fisheries Coastal Resource and Livelihood (FishCORAL) Project of BFAR.

The Department of Science and Technology provided them with equipment that help them improve their production of processed tahong from 10 to 15 bottles prior to the intervention increasing it to 50 to 75 bottles, from 20 to 50 pieces of shrimp and tahong sticks and crackers increasing to 100 to 200 pieces per production after the assistance was given.

This equipment includes a sterilizer and pressure cooker, two chest freezers; and two stainless steel working tables.

This assistance helped them increase their order-based income from a minimum of PhP1, 000 per month to PhP15, 000 per month, Acotin said.

“Mas malaki na ang kita namin ngayon,” he said.

Acotin said that they always attend trade fair as a way to promote their product aside from having an assured income.

Aside from equipment, DOST- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) also provided them technology interventions by setting up a 100-meter-long line culture method for tahong production which is more sustainable way of farming tahong in contrast to the traditional way of using bamboo.