BOLINAO, Pangasinan

The provincial government targets to harvest some 15,000 metric tons of salt from its 473.8-hectare Pangasinan Salt Center farm in Barangay Zaragoza here. In an interview on Thursday,
assistant provincial agriculturist Nestor Batalla said in the first cycle of salt production from November to December this year, they target to harvest some 8,000 to 10,000 metric tons with an estimated sales value of PHP40 million to PHP50 million.

The first cycle was supposed to start in October but it was delayed due to rainy weather. “The harvest is equivalent to one kilogram of salt per square meter per day and we have 10 hectares (of) salt farm with salt selling at PHP5 to PHP6 per kilo at present,” he said, referring to the rock salt locally known as “barara”. Batalla said for the second cycle from February to May 2024, if the weather permits with good sunlight and no typhoons, they target some 15,000 to 20,000 metric
tons of salt harvest with an estimated value of PHP75 million to PHP100,000 million.

He said salt production only lasts five to six months every year but they plan to turn the salt beds into fishponds to raise high-value marine fish species during the rainy months. Vice Governor Mark Lambino, in his speech during the ceremonial harvest on Thursday, said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members will also pass an ordinance to include in the revenue code the commercialization of the province’s salt produce. “This will definitely generate income and livelihood, and most especially, the province is cementing its legacy as salt producer in the country,” he said.

Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III said the provincial government is hoping for positive results, noting the management of the salt farm was sort of an experiment. The province has been in an interim management strategy for the improvement and development of the salt farm through a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in
December last year to increase production. The project is a response to the call of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to resolve the salt crisis in the country.

Batalla said that despite the Philippines being an archipelago, 93 percent of the country’s salt requirement was being imported from China and Australia amidst being an archipelago. Meanwhile, Guico said the turnover of the salt farm’s management from a private entity to the provincial government has primarily benefited the 70 salt farmers who continue to work there.
Primo Rubang, one of the salt farmers, said they lost their source of income when the salt farm was closed three years ago. “Pero ngayon maganda na. May sahod kami araw-araw at tuloy tuloy ang trabaho (But now it is better. We have income daily and our work continuous),” he added.

Hilda Austria/PNA

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