MORE development assistance, this time from the South Korean government, could be in the works for the seaweed industry in Tawi-Tawi, which accounts for about 70% of Philippine output of the agricultural commodity, from which carrageenan is extracted.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said South Korean Embassy Second Secretary Kim Myungjin recently discussed the possibility of launching a technical assistance project on seaweed research and development as well as marketing.

The project could tap financial support from the BIMP-EAGA-Republic of Korea Economic Cooperation Fund.

BIMP-EAGA is a sub-regional grouping within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is composed of the neighboring areas of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

MinDA has an ongoing program with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Philippines for a renewable energy project in Tawi-Tawi that is intended to support the development of value-added seaweed products. The project, with funding support from the European Union, will also provide electricity to the island province’s residents.

With South Korean interest, the development agencies along with the regional and provincial governments “are looking at the complementation of different initiatives to further develop the seaweed industry of the region,” MinDA said.

Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro regional government recently held an investment forum in Tawi-Tawi for the revival of the poultry industry, which took a hit from the drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are hopeful that this activity will help revive the industry, generate investment leads that will eventually become full blown enterprises and propel the creation of jobs and income for the Bangsamoro,” said Deputy Minister Sukarno Abas of the region’s Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism.

A similar forum was previously held in other parts of the region, including Sulu and Cotabato City.

“Due to weak consumer demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has recorded the biggest annual decline of minus 50.6% in poultry products — from 1,708 metric tons in 2020’s first quarter to 844 metric tons in 2021’s first quarter,” the regional government said in a statement.

Among those involved in the poultry revival initiative are the Philippine Halal Manok Corp., Land Bank of the Philippines, and Amanah Islamic Bank. — Marifi S. Jara