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Palace says salt industry modernization initiatives underway

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE government is developing programs to modernize the salt industry, the Palace spokeswoman said.

“The National Government is now working double time to beef-up support for the salt industry to enhance the production of the local salt in the country,” the Office of Press Secretary Rose Beatrix L. Cruz-Angeles said in a social media post.

Ms. Cruz-Angeles said the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies have initial modernization plans in place, including the expansion of salt production areas.

She said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will assist marginal and artisanal salt makers and lead research and develop initiatives into improved salt production.

The government also wants to move forward with the Development of the Salt Industry project in Regions 1, 6, and 9, Ms. Cruz-Angeles said.

She said the DA and the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Science and Technology and Trade and Industry (DTI) are collaborating to develop the salt industry as required by Republic Act No. 8172, or the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN).

The retail price of rock salt has increased recently after years of stagnation. The DTI said there are no shortages of the commodity.

The closure of salt plants has been blamed on the ASIN law, which bars the production of salt without iodine.

Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto has said that the DTI failed to comply with the law, which requires it to help producers obtain soft loans and financial assistance to procure iodization equipment.

“We prefer that Congress repeal the law to encourage our fellow Filipinos to return to salt production,” Mr. Fausto said in a recent radio interview.

Mr. Fausto said the proposed 2023 budget submitted by the Budget department to Congress “failed to allocate even a single cent to the production or development of our salt industry.”

Mr. Fausto noted that at least 50,000 Filipinos were previously employed in salt production.

Last year, the Philippines imported 647,000 metric tons of salt, of which 72% was from Australia, and 18.7% from China with the remainder from Thailand and New Zealand, Mr. Fausto said.

“We are importing despite having the longest shoreline in the world covering at least 36,000 kilometers,” he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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