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Salt industry output seen held back by reclamation, import competition

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE salt industry is unable to boost production due to the reclamation of shoreline and competition from imports, an organization of farmers said. 

“Due to cutthroat trade liberalization and side-by-side reclamation projects, local salt farms started closing one after the other,” the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in a statement. 

“Cheaper imported salt also flooded the markets, driving small salt producers and marginal fisherfolk into bankruptcy,” it added.

Before the Philippines signed on to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Bulacan used to be among the country’s biggest producers of salt, according to the KMP.

Apart from Bulacan, Pangasinan, Occidental Mindoro, and Las Piñas City were also key salt producers.

The Department of Agriculture has said that the self-sufficiency ratio for salt is equivalent to 7% of demand. The remaining 93% is supplied by China and Australia.

“Our over-dependence on rice and other food imports undermines our capacity to produce food staples locally,” KMP Chairman Rafael V. Mariano said in a statement.

“Back in the day, salt making was considered profitable and many families relied on it for their livelihood as Manila Bay provided clear waters for salt beds. But land reclamation became insatiable. Now, several reclamation and expansion projects along Manila Bay, spanning from Cavite, Pasay, to Bulacan, are in the pipeline,” Mr. Mariano added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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