Sustaining Coastal Community Efforts Through Enhancement of Drying Fish (SUCCEED-F)

 

Tambuyog Development Center, Inc. (TDC) has been championing its  advocacy work on empowering

small/marginal fisherfolk as key partners in promoting sustainable fisheries development throughout

the country for more than twenty years now. For a span of one year, work in Bantayan Is. on advocacy

and  with  the  current  partnership  between  Lutheran  World  Relief  under  the  “Building  Sustainable

Action for Fisherfolk Enhance Livelihood towards Resiliency (BUILD Safer), TDC has been a witness to

the high level of vulnerability of this island community.

 

The very high dependency on  fishing as  a source of  livelihood  that  was  discovered  during  Typhoon  Haiyan  was  further  highlighted  during  Typhoon Hagupit. When it struck Bantayan Island early in December 2014, it  caused a  halt to  fishing activities due to moderate/strong winds and continuous rain. For a fisherfolk household, 5 days is too much  of  a  burden  to  bear,  especially  since  they  are  solely  dependent  on  fishing.  Similarly,  the traditionally common  fish drying  activity which  was  expected to supplement  the unproductive days during  the  typhoon,  was  also  under  threat  because  of  the  spoilage  of  fish  due  to  continuous  and excessive rain.

 

TDC responds to the recurring problem of loss of immediate cash income due to adverse  weather

conditions  by  introducing  technology  and  a  facility  for  fish  -drying.  While  the  current  BUILD  SAFER project  will  enhance  livelihood  resiliency  by  increasing  livelihood  diversification  and  improving productivity, this project will  also  introduce the adoption of improved  post-harvest and  value-adding technology to  increase  knowledge  and skills,  as well as a facility and organizational systems to bring about  more resilient livelihoods.

 

 At the end of one year, some 200 fisherfolk in Bantayan Island will have gained access to appropriate fish drying technology and facilities, and enhanced their knowledge on  dried fish product development and marketing. The project will also emphasize the participation of women fisherfolk  since fish processing, trading and drying are predominantly female-driven sectors.

 

While we are restoring women’s livelihood, we are also preparing them to look at the possibility of

venturing  into  small  scale  business  enterprises  along  their  current  livelihood  activities  for

sustainability.

 

As a small island in the typhoon belt,  Bantayan is highly vulnerable  to natural disasters.  While the

center  of  the  typhoon  did  not  make  landfall  on  Bantayan,  the  strong  rains  and  winds  of  Typhoon Hagupit  caused major damage to the area.  The  slow moving storm  lashed the area with  continuous heavy  rains  for  five  to  seven  days.  The  slow  moving  unique  nature  of  this  storm  not  only  caused damage to local infrastructure  but kept fisherfolk from their livelihoods for the length of the storm.  The inability to harvest fish for food and for sale for this period of time caused significant hardship and highlighted the need to diversify livelihood activities.

 

Learning from Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Local Government Units (LGUs) preemptively evacuated

islet and coastal dwellers as early as December 4.  They were allowed to  return to their houses on

December 8,  after  a  five-day stretch  with  no income.  There were around 4,000 families  evacuated

during  the period of December 4 to  5 in  the  Municipality  of  Bantayan  alone.

 

Two  to  three  days  before  Typhoon Hagupit’s  expected  landfall,  fishing boats  were  safely  dry-docked  thus  preventing  further  fishing  activities, seaweeds were harvested  even though

they were  not yet at  their  optimal size, newly  deployed  fish  traps  had  to  be gathered to lessen damage,  and  some fish  corrals  were  also  dismantled  to avoid destruction.

 

Simultaneously,  the  fish drying  industry in  Bantayan  was  also  impaired  during  this  time.  Fisherfolk  who  normally practiced household-based drying could not  process  their  catch  anymore because the intensity of sunlight was not enough to dry their fish, resulting in spoilage.  These events were not formally recorded  in government statistics  and remain invisible  in most formal reports but were real and devastating costs to families already living at the bottom of the economic spectrum.

 

Normally, fisherfolk  have difficulty accessing technology to improve production.  Household  income is

very erratic as a majority of these fisherfolk depend solely on their catch for their livelihoods.  The walowalo  phenomenon and kulyada also stops the fishing activities of fisherfolk. During the rainy season,  traditional value addition  activities such as drying of fish and  lamayo production are also affected resulting in loss of productivity for fisherfolk households.  A bountiful 1-2 day’s catch is often followed by long stretches of no catch or very small harvests. This situation is aggravated by the short shelf life of their produce and lack of supplemental livelihoods during weather disturbances.

 

This livelihood system of "no fishing-no income for the day" means that fisherfolk food and other

basic daily household expenses are taken out of the sales of the day. This situation makes recovery

even slower, thus increasing their vulnerability. Survey data suggests livelihood induced economic

distress among households in the project’s area of operation. In the aftermath of a typhoon, nearly

25 percent of all households have no source of income, and 30 percent have only one source of

income – suggesting income and livelihood diversification is sorely needed in program targeted

households.

 

The  proposed  project  will  further build upon  the  goal  of  BUILD  SAFER  to recover  and  rebuild  the  livelihoods  of the  Haiyan  affected  fisherfolk  who, during  their  period  of  recovery,  were also  affected  by  Typhoon  Hagupit. SUCCEED-F focuses on  providing access  to  post  harvest  technology  -specifically  fish drying  and other value adding  techniques  -  to  increase productivity of fisherfolk households in Brgy.  Sungko,  Bantayan  Island.

 

Barangay Sungko is a major contributor of dried fish  on  the whole  of  Bantayan Island.  This dried fish, Danggit, is prized throughout the Philippines for its taste and texture. High quality Danggit from northern Cebu is especially prized throughout the Philippines and by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

 

One major component of this project is the construction of a  sanitary drying facility  with a 100 kilogram

capacity  solar-powered  mechanical  dryer,  complemented  with  a  vacuum  packaging  machine  and

solar-powered  freezer.  This  facility  will  be  managed  by  the  Sungko  Seaweeds  Farmers  Fisherfolk

Association (SSFFA). Currently, the association has 149 members, of which 105 are women, who are

actively engaged in household-level fish drying.

 

Currently, locally produced Danggit receives 300-400 kilos at the marketplace. Higher quality Danggit fetches 800-1000 pesos at regional marketplaces. Along with the facility, SUSWEFAS will set up systems for the operationalization of the facility and undergo a series of trainings on other value-adding technology and enterprise development, including promotion and marketing. Prior to these, a market study and value chain analysis (VCA) of dried fish will be completed to better understand the value chain.