FIRST FUEL DEPOT. Officials of various government agencies set up the first fuel depot on Pag-asa Island with the aim to help fishers reduce expenses for accessing fuel on Wednesday (April 27, 2022). The Department of Agriculture said fishers will no longer need to go to the mainland to refuel. (Photo courtesy: Department of Agriculture)

The Department of Agriculture, the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), and other agencies on Wednesday set up the first fuel depot on Pag-asa Island.

In a virtual press conference, Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries and Agri Industrialization Ching Natividad-Caballero said the depot aims to save fishers from additional costs that they incur for going back to mainland Palawan.

“This means that our fishery, our fisherfolk, the fish along with the areas of the Kalayaan island group and in the West Philippine Sea can replenish and go to that fuel depot,” she said.

Caballero noted the government needs to continuously support local fishers amid the fuel price hikes.

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“This is one area that we really should be proud of because we have communities that are thriving on Pag-asa Island,” she added.

Meanwhile, she noted that pandemic and fuel price hikes have not hindered the country’s farmers’ and fishers’ production.

Despite the typhoon onslaught, the country has recorded almost 20-million tons of palay production, around two million higher than 2019’s production, contributing to the country’s 92 percent self-sufficiency for rice.

“It’s not an easy trip to do this, but this is where the Department of Agriculture, through the RTL, RCEF, and integrated programs on rice has contributed to this self-sufficiency,” Caballero said.

“The fish unloading has increased to 37.69 percent as compared to February, so meron na tayong (so we have) 59,988.98 metric tons sa lahat ng rehiyon (in all regions),” she added.

This eventually translated into a decline in fish price, including the drop of galunggong’s price from over PHP300 to around PHP240, as well as in tilapia, and bangus. (PNA)

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