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Zamboanga fishermen struggle to bring Tamban catch to Luzon; Gov't has a solution - by Siena Luchansky

Neglect is an understatement

By Manny Piñol

Flying straight yesterday from progressive South Korea to one of the country's poorest provinces, Zamboanga del Norte, for another journey of the Biyaheng Bukid, I realized once again just how neglected are our people in the countryside.

Actually, neglect is an understatement.

Abandoned would be the more fitting description of how these people have been treated by government for so long.

During the 1st Farmers' Summit held in the coastal town of Siocon, six hours by land from Zamboanga City and five hours from Dipolog City, I was shocked to hear the first concern raised by a Subanen tribal fisherman.
"Sir we catch a lot of Tamban (sardines fish) but we do not know where to sell them. They just rot," the Subanen fisherman told me.

It was then when I was told that Tamban, a delicious fish when fried in oil or "paksiw" with just onion and red tomato, is sold not by the kilo but by "tumpok" or heap.

One heap of Tamban estimated to weigh about two kilos, sells for P20 in the market.

At the peak of the fishing season, a huge basket full of Tamban would only sell for P30.

The problem will get worse again next month when the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) will lift the three-month closed fishing season and allow the fishermen to cast their nets into the waters full of huge Tamban.

The three-month closed fishing season which was implemented by the previous administration and is now being pursued by the administration of President Rody Duterte has actually resulted in more and bigger fish catch to the point that even the sardines makers of Zamboanga City are complaining that the size of the Tamban could no longer fit in their small cans.

"F..k..g s..t," was all that I could say knowing how the poor of Metro Manila are complaining about the high price of fish in the market.

The problem of the fishermen of Siocon, a rice producing town with rich fishing grounds just south of the huge island of Negros is the distance between their town and the nearest city with an ice plant, which is Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur, a good three hours by truck.

It is only now that the government is building a P3-million Community Fish Landing Center (CFLC) which the fishermen could use in bringing their catch in.

Yesterday, I committed that before June this year, the construction of a Community Ice-Making Facility which will be given by the DAF to organized fishermen in the four coastal towns of Zamboanga del Norte will start.

(I have set a condition, however, that the fishermen should stop illegal fishing in the area before we start building the ice plant. Also, I told Siocon Mayor Julius Lobrigas that the cutting of trees in the mountains should be stopped before I deliver the commitments in agriculture.)

But even before that, I will have to find a way to bring the "Tamban" of Zamboanga del Norte to the fish markets of Metro Manila and the big cities.

Even at P80 per kilo, I am sure the Tambans will be snatched by buyers in Baguio City, Metro Manila and even Cebu City.
How will I bring the big Tambans to the market and feed the tens of thousands of hungry mouths?

That will be a secret in the meantime. But I will find a way.

Abangan na lang ang pagbaha ng Tamban sa mercado. (Just watch out for the flooding of Tamban in the market.)
There were other concerns raised yesterday during the Farmers' Summit in Siocon, including requests for farm machineries and dryers which were all addressed with the farmers applauding and happy as the DAF provided answers to all of the problems they presented.

So now, do you understand why I take the pain of travelling all over the country and reach out to these people?
I am just doing what the Hewlett-Packard executive call "Management by Walking Around."

Travel is the best teacher.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers!
(Photos of the Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte journey of Biyaheng Bukid yesterday taken by Ferdinand Piñol, head executive asst. to the Secretary of DAF. Thanks to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the Philippine Air Force for their support to Biyaheng Bukid.)

Zamboanga fishermen struggle to bring Tamban catch to Luzon; Gov't has a solution - by Siena Luchansky Zamboanga fishermen struggle to bring Tamban catch to Luzon; Gov't has a solution - by Siena Luchansky Reviewed by Raelyn Luchansky on 1:58:00 PM Rating: 5

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