THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it hopes to upgrade salt production by increasing the area devoted to salt-making, describing the current shortage as a food security issue.

“Salt is a food security issue. Not being able to produce salt will hurt the country’s competitiveness and ability to become a successful agro-industrial economy,” the DA said in a memorandum circular.

“It is clear that increasing salt production (means an increase) in salt producing areas. Having the resources for identification, regulatory approval, construction and partnership, the government should lead the way in stimulating the salt industry by identifying, constructing and preparing the necessary salt-producing areas and make it ready for the private sector to operate them,” it said.

The Development of Salt Industry Project (DSIP) aims to produce “excellent quality” salt through process enhancement and improved salt making practices, while complying with food safety standards.

Under the plan, the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) will compile a comprehensive profile of salt farmers, producers, traders, distributors, importers, and consumers.

“In order to realize the program’s goal of reviving the salt industry through technology development and research initiatives, the NFRDI will focus its activities on boosting and sustaining local salt production by providing necessary production, post-harvest, and marketing-related interventions to the selected salt farmers/project beneficiaries,” according to the plan.

These initiatives include the development and standardization of processing methods, consumer acceptability tests, and market research to develop sea salt products, and the overhaul of policy and rules governing the industry. 

The plan also includes capacity-building activities and training for qualified beneficiaries in food safety standards and production methods.

It also seeks to introduce various production techniques to the traditional pond-drying method, like the use of high-density polyethylene geomembrane. It also hopes to promote the use of greenhouses and cooking.

The DSIP will also upgrade post-harvest and storage facilities. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson